The former US ambassador to Ukraine, Steven Pifer, considers there are four problems which his country could help Ukraine overcome. These are stimulation of the economy in financial crisis conditions, development of energy conservation and reduction of energy dependency on other countries, and lobbying Ukraine's interests on entry into NATO and the EC.
"But none of this will have any effect without a fourth component - development of a joint policy by the government and president of Ukraine.The USA are ready to act as mediator in this process.." says Pifer.
Pifer is correct to identify the harm being done by long-standing president/premier warring in Ukraine, but now Yushchenko's time is fast running out.
Meanwhile PoR and BYuT are still working on 'stitching up' the president by altering the consitution, allowing Tymoshenko to continue leading the government, and electing Viktor Yanukovych as president in parliament. But an article in PoR-leaning 'Segodnya' reckons there may not now be sufficient time for the creation of a 'PR-BYuT' coalition either - a deal must be 'wrapped up' by June at the very latest.
I've loosely translated some portions below:
Rumours about the speedy creation of a PR/BYuT coalition are again emerging, but the probability of success is by no means 100%, even though now both forces are close to agreement. Changes to the constitution, which must be the basis of understanding between Yanukovych and Tymoshenko, have already been agreed.
Having experienced a fall in her ratings, Tymoshenko has made large concessions to 'Regiony' on constitutional questions in order to avoid national presidential elections. Sources in both fractions confirm that voting for the president in the parliament is proposed. In this case the head of state will be Yanukovych, with somewhat increased powers in the comparison with the current president, Tymoshenko remaining premier.
He would be deprived the right to assign governors, but the law courts would be returned under his control - all judges during his first term would be appointed by the President.
Furthermore, besides the heads of the Mministry of Foreign Affairs, National Bank of Ukraine, Ministry of Defense, Security Service, and Attorney General's Office, the Ministry of Internal Affairs would be added to president's remit - i.e., all the 'sylovyky' would be controlled by the president, [i.e. Yanukovych]. BYuT have also foregone their idea of carrying out elections of parliament into two stages.
Various fractions within PoR have different opinions on the proposals. An influential group in the party connected with Rinat Akhmetov and Boris Kolesnikov are not entirely against the association. "If we do not combine, then long years of political and economic chaos await the country," says PoR deputy Volodymyr Sivkovych. BYuT deputies also declare their desire for "uniting for the sake of fighting the crisis". But no-one is confident that such an association will take place.
Both fractions see the main reason for possible failure of PR/BYuT to be fast-approaching presidential elections scheduled for late October. Indeed in order to have time to to change constitution, then it is necessary to accept the first reading of the proposals some time in May. Furthermore, the proposals must be scrutinised by the Constitutional Court by September, and only in September can the constitution be accepted finally - just a month before the presidential elections. So presidential elections would be abolished at the height of an election campaign: too cynical even for Ukrainian politics.
It is hardly likely that Tymshenko and Yanukovych will refuse to participate in the elections so it would be better if they transfer elections to January 17th, which the constitutional court can do. But creation of PR/BYuT could alter the popularity of both of the two political forces amongst voters, therefore to go into coalition without being sure of the cancellation of elections via changes in the constitution is dangerous.
Apart from the distribution of power between its different branches, both PoR and BYuT in their version of the constitution, have attempted to resolve other questions. Even last year non aligned nation status was agreed for Ukraine, closing off any attempt to drag the country in NATO. But article 10 on the official language remains without changes. "Regions" agreed not to change it," said a source in BYuT. "In exchange for this, we promised the real fulfillment of European charter on regional languages, in order to remove the discrimination against the Russian language in the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine, and to give it considerably more rights than it has now," said the source...
So the possibility of "development of a joint policy by the government and president of Ukraine", considered so important by Pifer, which could perhaps occur under a Tymoshenko prime ministership and Yanuk presidency, is not that likely either.
'Oboz' reports that during her meeting with PM Putin in Moscow today, Tymoshenko will ask him to "apply pressure on Yanukovych to more actively participate in the organisation of PR/BYuT"
p.s. Details of Pifer's Brookings Insititution paper, "Engaging Ukraine in 2009", here