Thursday, March 29, 2012

Don't believe what you read in the papers...

According to the staid and reliable 'Kommersant' business daily, Viktor Yanukovych and president Barak Obama, who were both attending the nuclear summit in Seoul, spoke together yesterday for just over four minutes. No separate room was prepared for them, and both presidents remained standing during their brief conversation. Yanukovych's meeting with European Council president Herman von Rompey and European commission head Jose Manuel Barrosso followed a similar format. They spoke briefly during a short intermission between pleniary sessions.

The White House described the Obama/Yanukovych meeting in a single paragraph:

"The President and Ukrainian President Yanukovych spoke today at the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea. President Obama expressed appreciation to President Yanukovych and the Ukrainian people for the complete removal of highly enriched uranium from their country as a sign of Ukraine’s continuing courageous leadership on nuclear security. The leaders agreed this is an important step towards securing all vulnerable nuclear materials and is an important milestone for global security. The President underscored the importance of demonstrating the vitality of Ukrainian democracy by ensuring free, fair, and transparent parliamentary elections in October. The President also raised U.S. concerns about selective prosecutions of the political opposition."

The big-selling pro-Yanukovych 'Segodnya' daily put an entirely different slant on their meeting. They 'stretched' the time the two presidents spent talking to "a little over 15 minutes".

Commented on his meeting with EU leaders Herman van Rompuy and Jose Manuel Barroso, Yanukovych claimed: "We were able to discuss the situation briefly, but could not execute the entire program of talks." This meeting took place immediately after the rendezvous with Obama, and because the discussion with the American president went on for longer than planned, [oh yes?..F.N] accordingly, Yanukovych's conversation with the Europeans had to be shortened. However president Yanukovych was not particularly upset, "I think there will be time for this. We agreed to keep in contact."

In another article, 'Segodnya' claims:

"Tonight, the Ukrainian president leaves Seoul in a good mood, because his stay in the city has revived hopes that the Ukrainian leadership's geopolitical plans may still be fulfilled as a result of meetings with U.S. President Barack Obama, and with the leaders of the European Union.
Since Ukraine's main geopolitical game is with Russia and the EU, the U.S. does not play a key role here. For Viktor Yanukovych is was important to merely obtain a stance of friendly neutrality from the American president, which he received in Seoul. There is no doubt that until the November U.S. presidential elections take place, the White House will not utter a single critical word about Ukraine, and this will be a signal to a global audience that Yanukovych can not be put on a par with Lukashenko, Chavez, or even president Ahmadinejad of Iran. For Obama, the president of Ukraine is a respectable leader of a democratic state about whom he has no complaints."

'Segodnya' and Yanukovych kid no-one. There will be no further Euro-integration until opposition leaders are released from jail. And Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has on many occasions made the U.S. position most clear too.

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