Sunday, October 16, 2011

Make or break week for Ukraine?

From regular 'Economist' commenter "Didomyk":

Oct 14th 2011 7:12 GMT .
Ukraine's future relations with the West and specifically with EU, as well as with Putin's Russia, will be shaped by the results of four significant events that are scheduled over the next week or so:

(1)Yanukovych will meet Russia's President Medvedev in Donetsk on Oct. 18th [Ukrainian-Russian Inter-regional Economic Forum..LEvko] for further talks on his attempt to get lower prices for Russian gas. Will Russia show more flexibility both in terms of gas pricing (now tied to crude oil prices) and in terms of a requirement to pay for a fixed annual gas volume irrespective of the actual consumption ? Will Medvedev continue to link possible reduction of gas prices to Russian control over Ukraine's gas transmission system ? Is there a room for a compromise on Ukraine's proposals for a tri-party control (Ukraine-Russia-EUnion) over the operations of the transmission system over a long term ?

(2)On Oct.18th Ukraine's Parliament will continue to consider changes to the 50 years old Soviet criminal code that remains valid in Ukraine. The main issue is decriminalization of political decisions taken by political leaders who were confronted with limited options. In a democratic system their errors in judgement, if any, are subject to the electorate's vote on the election day, not to criminal proceedings of the type Tymoshenko has been subject of.

(3)Yanukovych is planning to visit Brussels on Oct. 20th [nothing about this on prezza's official site yet] hoping to advance bilateral talks on the free-trade agreement. Opinions have been voiced calling for EU leaders to boycott Yanukovych until Tymoshenko is set free and the verdict annuled. Others possible options would be to meet with Yanukovych and to conclude EU-Ukraine free-trade negotiations, while making it very clear that ratification of the agreement will be suspended unless Yanukovych demonstrates a substantial change to his policy of using courts in oppressing opposition.

(4)An IMF delegation is scheduled to visit Kyiv next week to negotiate a resumption of an urgently needed lending program. Last March the IMF froze loans after disbursing $3.4 billion of a possible $15.6 billion approved for Ukraine, because Yanukovych' government did not meet budget austerity requirements.

The willingness of the IMF team to approve further disbursements will reflect a consensus in Brussels, Paris, London, New York, etc. to assist Ukraine in implementing further economic reforms..

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