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UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT APPROVES NEW CABINET. President Leond Kuchma has issued decrees appointing a new government headed by Premier Viktor Yanukovych and dismissing the old one headed by Anatoliy Kinakh, UNIAN reported on 1 December, quoting presidential spokeswoman Olenka Hromnytska. Yanukovych's cabinet consists of First Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Mykola Azarov, Deputy Premier Ivan Kyrylenko, Deputy Premier Dmytro Tabachnyk, Deputy Premier Vitaliy Hayduk, Environment Minister Vasyl Shevchuk, Education Minister Vasyl Kremen, Agriculture Minister Serhiy Ryzhuk, Economy Minister Valeriy Khoroshkovskyy, Emergency Situations Minister Hryhoriy Reva, Labor Minister Mykhaylo Papiyev, Industrial Policy Minister Anatoliy Myalytsya, Culture Minister Yuriy Bohutskyy, Transport Minister Heorhiy Kirpa, Interior Minister Yuriy Smyrnov, Justice Minister Oleksandr Lavrynovych, Defense Minister Volodymyr Shkidchenko, Foreign Minister Anatoliy Zlenko, Fuel and Energy Minister Serhiy Yermilov, and Health Minister Andriy Pidayev. JM
UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT FAILS TO SACK NATIONAL BANK HEAD. The Verkhovna Rada on 28 November turned down President Leonid Kuchma's motion to dismiss National Bank Governor Volodymyr Stelmakh and replace him with Serhiy Tihipko, Ukrainian media reported. The motion was supported by 214 deputies, 12 votes short of the required majority. Parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn said the legislature will return once again to the issue of sacking Stelmakh and appointing Tihipko. Meanwhile, Our Ukraine lawmaker Yuriy Kostenko commented that the pro-government parliamentary majority is not workable, adding that it is "even unable to resolve those personnel problems in which it is interested." Kostenko predicted that "when it comes to the implementation of the government's program, the majority will face even more problems." JM
CZECH PREMIER IN SLOVAKIA. Visiting Czech Premier Spidla and his Slovak counterpart Mikulas Dzurinda on 30 November agreed on the need to draft a "feasibility study" regarding the Czech "Joint Sky" proposal for jointly defending the two countries' airspace, CTK and TASR reported. Experts representing the two sides are to present a report within one month. Defense Minister Ivan Simko and his Czech counterpart Tvrdik are also to continue consultations on the proposal, but told journalists after their meeting in Bratislava that the possibility of the countries jointly purchasing supersonic fighters was not discussed at their meeting. Dzurinda and Spidla also agreed to terminate the 1993-established customs-union agreement between the two countries on the day either of them, or both, join the EU. They also agreed that funds previously spent on strengthening the Czech-Slovak border should be diverted to strengthen the border between Slovakia and Ukraine. Finally, Spidla and Slovak parliamentary speaker Pavol Hrusovsky agreed to coordinate schedules for the two countries' plebiscites on joining the EU, with Slovakia holding the referendum ahead of the Czech Republic. MS
PRODI REITERATES: MOLDOVA HAS NO CHANCE TO JOIN EU European Commission President Romano Prodi, in an interview with the Dutch newspaper "De Volkskrank" on 29 November, said he can see "no reason whatever why Morocco, Ukraine, or the Republic of Moldova should become EU members," Infotag reported. Prodi added that "Russia cannot be a member either, because the country is too large to be integrated." In October, Prodi said in an interview with an Italian newspaper that Moldova, Belarus, and Russia cannot join the EU, stirring negative reactions from some in the Moldovan leadership. MS
BULGARIAN STATISTICIANS UNVEIL 2001 CENSUS RESULTS. In an official press release on 29 November, the State Statistics Institute announced preliminary results of last year's census (for complete results, see http://www.nsi.bg/Census/Ethnos-final-n.htm). The data concerns the ethnic, religious, and linguistic composition of Bulgaria's population. According to the statisticians, the population totaled 7.93 million people at the beginning of 2001, of whom 6.55 million (84 percent) were ethnic Bulgarians. The country's largest minority, ethnic Turks, amounted to some 747,000 people (9.4 percent). The Romany community was placed at about 371,000 people (4.7 percent), but many observers believe that the real Romany population is much higher. Russian, Armenian, Vlach, Ukrainian, and Jewish diasporas each account for less than 1 percent of the total population. Almost 83 percent of the population is Bulgarian Orthodox, while the country's 967,000-strong Muslim community accounts for more than 12 percent of the total population. UB
RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
A Survey of Developments in Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine by the Regional Specialists of RFE/RL's Newsline Team
PARLIAMENT TO MULL RATIFICATION OF MINORITY-LANGUAGE CHARTER. On 29 October, President Leonid Kuchma again submitted the 1992 European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages for ratification by the Ukrainian parliament. The manner in which the charter would be applicable would be important to Ukraine's largest minority, Russians, as well as to smaller ethnic groups, such as Romanians, Hungarians, Poles, Tatars, and Jews.
President Kuchma has backed ratification of 42 paragraphs of the charter, although only 35 are needed for it to be adopted. The 42 paragraphs contain provisions for protecting and promoting the linguistic and cultural rights of minorities in courts, as well as in cultural, educational, and state institutions.
Ukraine joined the Council of Europe in 1995 and promised to ratify the charter within 12 months. It was finally ratified by the parliament in December 1999, but the Constitutional Court declared its provisions unconstitutional. One constitutional clash concerned the question of which languages could be used by state officials.
One expert in attendance at a Council of Europe seminar held in Kyiv on 18-19 October tried to dissuade the fears of Ukrainian speakers that the charter would primarily promote Russian. According to that expert, Council of Europe officials claimed at the seminar "that the language charter is called to protect all languages. The bigger the ethnic group, the greater protection liabilities the state should assume to protect its language."
Nevertheless, opposition to the charter is again likely to come from national democrats who now possess the largest faction in the Verkhovna Rada: Viktor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine. Especially as the new presidential push to ratify the charter follows a move allegedly instigated by the head of the presidential administration, Viktor Medvedchuk, during the Council of Europe seminar to make Russian a state language. In addition, protests will inevitably be submitted to the Constitutional Court.
Although the Council of Europe seminar claimed that the Ukrainian language would also benefit from the charter, this is unlikely. The newly submitted charter for ratification by Kuchma only refers to non-Ukrainian ethnic groups, although Ukrainians are designated constitutionally as the "titular nation." Ukrainophones often feel that they have a minority status in eastern Ukraine and Crimea where their linguistic rights are ignored. The Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe do not apply national-minority and linguistic rights to the titular nation, assuming that it is the duty of the state to promote its own dominant ethnic group. This, of course, is true theoretically, but in the case of Ukraine and, to an even greater extent, Belarus, this is not always the case.
The charter also promotes the use of minority languages by state officials, whereas the Constitutional Court ruled in December 1999 that all state officials should use only Ukrainian. Official documents produced in Kyiv, including during elections by the Central Election Commission, are only in Ukrainian regardless of whether they are sent to Lviv or Crimea.
Ukraine is not alone in debating the role of the charter as the entire subject of national-minority and linguistic rights is highly charged both in the West and in the East. The Council of Europe and the OSCE have de facto adopted the widely shared assumption that Western, "civic" states are consolidated, mature democracies and do not require active intervention in minority and ethnic problems.
The opposite is held to be true of the East, which is assumed to be less democratically advanced and more prone to ethnic discrimination and conflict. The EU has only demanded that postcommunist states that desire EU membership uphold good minority policies, a demand not made to Western European states that were invited to join earlier. The OSCE has only intervened in ethnic conflicts in postcommunist states, despite the fact there exist more and longer-running conflicts in the West. The United Kingdom, Spain, and Turkey have refused to sanction intervention by the OSCE because they have defined their ethnic conflicts as "terrorism."
Three other problems have rested on the question of how to define "national minorities" and whether migrants and linguistic groups also have rights. No common definition of "national minorities" exists in Europe among states or the OSCE, and each state has been left to its own devices either to define them or to deny their existence. The legislation of some states, such as the United States, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain, Turkey, and Greece, denies that national minorities exist and prefers to support only civic rights provided to individuals, rather than collective rights to ethnic groups.
Most states deny that migrants, especially economic ones, should be able to claim state assistance to protect their cultures. Russia has defended the rights of Russian-speaking "compatriots" in the former Soviet Union, not Russians, although linguistic groups are not traditionally afforded protection as a group.
Ukraine is therefore not alone in having reservations about the Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. As of July 2001, only 15 states had ratified the charter. France refused to ratify it because it contradicted its constitution, which provides rights to individuals, regardless of ethnicity, language, or religion. Belgium, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and Turkey had not even signed the charter while other Western European states ratified it with heavy revisions.
Most states have opposed any concept of collective rights, such as separate ethnic universities (which Albanians have demanded in Macedonia) and have allocated quotas in parliaments. They have also demanded that all citizens should learn the official (state) language. Some have opposed granting provisions to nonterritorial languages, such as Roma, and some states have insisted that they have a right to define to which languages the charter applies.
Most states have adopted a compromise policy of integration, in contrast to the provision of collective rights through multiculturalism (as in Canada) or full-blown assimilation, which was the most commonly held policy prior to the 1960s.
The dividing line between "integration" and moderate "assimilation" is, however, hazy. Moderate assimilation "is opposed not to difference but to segregation, ghettoization. and marginalization," the well-known U.S. scholar Rogers Brubaker concludes in the July 2001 issue of "Ethnic and Racial Studies." Integration of minorities into mainstream society, while providing for their rights, has always been the policy implemented by Ukraine.
THE WAY OF THE POLISH-UKRAINIAN STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP. A book review by Vera Rich of Kateryna Wolczuk's and Roman Wolczuk's "Poland and Ukraine -- a Strategic Partnership in a Changing Europe," The Royal Institution of International Affairs, London, 2002, 134 pp., ISBN 1-86203-137-1.
Poland and Ukraine, as the two largest states in the "new" Central and Eastern Europe of postcommunist transformation, are becoming increasingly important for European politics overall. They have also been perceived, particularly in the early 1990s, as being of vital importance for one other. For Kyiv, Poland was seen as a major "gateway to Europe"; for Warsaw, a pro-Western Ukraine would act as Europe's bulwark against a still-unreconstructed Russia. Yet the much lauded "strategic partnership" between the two has failed to yield fruit, not only due to contemporary political and economic developments but also because the amity and commitment to "reconciliation" proclaimed by the two governments has failed to overcome historical grievances and enmities among the population at last. With the imminent accession of Poland to the EU and its consequent separation from Ukraine by a "hard" Schengen frontier, this analysis of the history and future prospects of the "partnership" is particularly timely.
The analysis begins by distinguishing three periods in the post-1991 relations of Poland and Ukraine. During the first period (1991-1994), both sides formally announced their commitment to priority relations with the other, with President Leonid Kravchuk of Ukraine averring that the "degree of cooperation with Poland will be higher than [with] any country in the CIS, including Russia," and Polish President Lech Walesa reiterating Jozef Pilsudski's dictum that "without an independent Ukraine, there cannot be an independent Poland." These sentiments were highlighted by the signing of the Treaty on Good-Neighborly Relations and Cooperation (1992) and the Agreement on the Legal Regime on the Ukrainian-Polish State Boundaries, Cooperation, and Mutual Support on Border Issues (January 1993). These declarations, however, were matched neither by economic ties nor by political developments. Poland's eastern policy of the period was ill-defined, tended (like that, incidentally, of the West) to be Russocentric, and in any case took second place to the Polish desire for progress westward.
The start of the second period (1994-1997) coincided with, and was in part fueled by, the election of new presidents in both countries. Although Ukraine's Kuchma had been elected on a platform of a foreign policy focused on Russia, his personal view that Poland must be Ukraine's "number-one state" and his long-term aim of EU membership, matched with a similar economic pragmatism, gave a considerable boost to cooperation, both economic (particularly in the "strategic" field of energy supplies) and political, while at the same time, both countries (though at very different rates) were set on a course toward NATO and the EU. The culmination was the signing of the Declaration of Understanding and Reconciliation of May 1997, which was the high point of this period.
In the subsequent period (1997 onward), however, the deterioration of the Polish economy, scandals in Ukrainian domestic politics (in particular the Heorhiy Gongadze affair), and, on the international scene, the increasing assertiveness of President Vladimir Putin's Russia and the EU's failure to grasp that Russia will strive to fill any gap that the West leaves open, retarded Polish efforts to "drag Ukraine westward" and as a result diminished Poland's own self-esteem as an international player.
The analysis of these fluctuations (the subject of the first main chapter) would have been sufficient for many commentators. The Wolczuks, however, look deeper. Parallel to and, in most cases, opposed to the attitudes of the governments are the deeply ingrained attitudes and prejudices of the population. Historical conflicts and the memories of 20th-century clashes and abuses (events often, in the latter half of the century, deliberately exploited by Soviet and Polish communist propagandists) had left a deep mark in the communal memory of both countries.
Two major chapters address these prejudices and perceptions, past and present, and, in particular, their all too resonant echoes in border areas. Many of the individual foci of discontent and how, on occasion, they have vitiated the policy initiatives of the governments will be familiar to students of the area: the dispute over the former Ukrainian Greek Catholic Cathedral in Przemysl or the Polish Eaglets Cemetery in Lviv, for example. This book, however, is not aimed at the specialist in East European history but rather at the planners and politicians (Western and in particular EU/NATO) who have to try to come to grips not only with the overt problems of the area but with the centuries of grievances that underlie them. And, although over the past 10 years a number of Anglophone authors have addressed the problems of the "kresy" (the long-disputed borderlands between Poles and their eastern neighbors), those works have been at best "sentimental tourism" and at worst one-sided and more likely to exacerbate than heal past sores. The Wolczuks' analysis of these emotive issues, calm, insightful, and impartial, cannot be commended too highly.
In the next chapter, the discussion moves into the future: the new strains that Poland's EU membership will impose on its already complex relationship with Ukraine. Although a purist may consider this section already outdated at the time of publication (for shortly before the launch of the book, Poland's EU accession date of 2004 was confirmed), it was clearly written with Polish accession in mind. Issues addressed include the human and microeconomic consequences of a strict visa regime on Poland's eastern frontier and the larger questions of how to avoid Poland's future Schengen frontier forcing Ukraine into a sense of isolation from Europe. The lack, to date, of an EU consensus in policy toward Ukraine; the problems, present and future, of the still-open border between Ukraine and Russia; trade figures between Ukraine and the EU candidate states; and the effects of the security situation following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States on cross-border activities are just some of the topics addressed in this context.
The final chapter, devoted to "the way forward," may be summarized as follows: Since, to date, the EU has proposed no adequate solution to the problems of preserving ties between applicant and nonapplicant neighbors, Poland and Ukraine will have to solve their dilemmas alone. Efforts to overcome old animosities in both countries have been largely confined to politicians and intellectuals, yet the level of cooperation between Poland and Ukraine is "unmatched" elsewhere in the area. It would be a "grave cause of concern" if this were to be replaced by renewed alienation, yet this seems an all too likely consequence of EU enlargement, at least in the short term. The success (or failure) of the Polish-Ukrainian "strategic partnership" under these conditions, the Wolczuks conclude, will be a "crucial test for subregional stability and security" and "a testing-ground for the future relationship between" EU members and nonmember neighbors in general.
One can only hope that, with the imprint of the Royal Institution of International Affairs and the backing of its worldwide distributor, the Brookings Institution, this book will become required reading for all who have a hand in shaping Europe's future -- in Brussels and elsewhere.
"RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report" is prepared by Jan Maksymiuk on the basis of a variety of sources including reporting by "RFE/RL Newsline" and RFE/RL's broadcast services. It is distributed every Tuesday.
CASH-STRAPPED U.S. POWER GIANT SEEKS TO SELL UKRAINIAN ASSETS America's AES Corporation intends to divest itself of its controlling stakes in Ukrainian utilities Kyivoblenerho and Rivneoblenerho, "Vedomosti" reported on 26 November. AES paid $70 million for 75 percent-plus-one-share stakes in the two utilities in a May 2001 privatization deal and has since invested $15 million in the enterprises. AES representatives refused to confirm or deny the news to "Vedomosti," but Ukrainian Fuel and Energy Ministry spokesman Vitaliy Hayduk told the newspaper that officials are aware of the plan. He named Russia's Unified Energy Systems and Slovakia's VES, which already owns three Ukrainian utilities, as potential buyers. With a $300 million-plus-interest bond payment due on 16 December, AES has ample need to raise funds, "The Washington Post" reported on 18 November. Debt-fueled growth made Arlington-based AES the world's largest producer of electricity, but economic turmoil in South America and losses from its $3 billion acquisition of England's Drax Power Station have hurt the company's financial profile. According to "The Washington Post," cash-strapped AES hopes to raise $800 million in asset sales to cope with 2003 debt-repayment deadlines. (DK)
UKRAINIAN, SLOVAK PRESIDENTS WANT TO BOOST ECONOMIC COOPERATION. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and his Slovak counterpart Rudolf Schuster said at an economic forum in Kyiv on 2 December that they are in favor of more intensive mutual economic cooperation, UNIAN reported. CTK quoted Schuster as saying he also discussed "delicate issues" with Kuchma, but he did not elaborate. Kuchma said he is pleased with relations with Slovakia, which are not burdened by "any political problems," as well as with the recent NATO Prague summit, according to CTK. JM
GAZPROM REDUCES SUPPLIES OF CENTRAL ASIAN GAS TO UKRAINE. As of 29 November, Gazprom reduced by 65 percent supplies of Central Asian gas to Ukraine from Itera, a Florida-based gas trader that has controversial ties to current and former Gazprom managers, UNIAN reported on 2 December. Gazprom said the reduction is connected with Itera's reluctance to repay a debt of more than $30 million to Russian monopoly Gazprom. Itera, which uses Gazprom's network to pump Central Asian gas, has been supplying gas to Ukraine for the past nine years. JM
UKRAINE ASKS AZERBAIJAN TO HELP OPERATE GAS, OIL PIPELINES. Premier Viktor Yanukovych on 2 December offered Azerbaijan participation in an international consortium to operate Ukraine's gas-transit pipelines as well as involvement in completing and running the Odesa-Brody oil pipeline, UNIAN reported. Yanukovych made the offers during his meeting with Azerbaijani parliamentary speaker Murtuz Alesqerov. Ukraine and Russia struck a deal to create a consortium to run Ukraine's gas-transit pipelines in October 2002. JM
POLISH PREMIER URGES PARTIES TO SUPPORT EU ENTRY. During a meeting with representatives of parties that are signatories to the Pact in Support of European Integration (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 November 2002), Premier Leszek Miller said Poland's integration in the EU is more than just a matter of concern for a few parties, PAP reported. Miller called it an opportunity for Poland and a necessary decision for the country. At the meeting, Miller represented the Democratic Left Alliance, Marek Pol the Labor Union, Janusz Lewandowski the Civic Platform, Janusz Onyszkiewicz the Freedom Union, Artur Balazs the Conservative Peasant Party-New Poland Movement, Krzysztof Piesiewicz the Social Movement, and Roman Jagielinski the Peasant Democratic Party. Miller intends to meet with several European leaders this week in an effort to convince them to offer better financial terms for Poland's accession prior to the EU summit on 12-13 December (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 3 December 2002). JM
POLISH DOCTORS CHARGED IN BIZARRE AMBULANCE DEATHS. Prosecutors in Lodz, central Poland, have charged two doctors with deliberately allowing 18 patients to die, Reuters reported on 2 December. The charges follow a probe into reports in January by investigative journalists from "Gazeta Wyborcza" and Polish Radio alleging that ambulance crews in Lodz allowed patients to die and subsequently sold their bodies to the highest bidders among local funeral homes (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 5 February 2002). "The doctors are accused of endangering the lives of patients by failing to use their medical knowledge to give proper treatment," prosecutor Jolanta Badziak told Reuters. Badziak said 70 cases were examined in which patients died during or shortly after a visit by Lodz ambulance staff, with the investigators concluding that 18 of the deaths were suspicious. The investigators still expect to examine another 200 cases. JM