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UKRAINIAN PREMIER SAYS PRIORITIES ARE ECONOMIC GROWTH, WTO ENTRY. Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov said in an interview with the "Financial Times" on 5 October that the first priority of his cabinet is to reverse the rapid slowdown of economic growth. The Ukrainian economy grew 2.8 percent in the first eight months of 2005, compared with 13.6 percent in the same period a year earlier. Yekhanurov also said he hopes the Verkhovna Rada will soon approve 12 government-proposed bills intended to support Ukraine's bid to enter the World Trade Organization (WTO). He added that he is not sure whether Ukraine will be admitted to the WTO this coming December, as President Viktor Yushchenko had aimed for. Yekhanurov confirmed that the Kryvorizhstal steel mill will go for a repeat privatization auction later this month. The mill was sold in 2004 for $800 million but the Yushchenko government canceled that tender. Now the minimum price for Kryvorizhstal has been set at $2 billion. Yekhanurov also said the government's drive to reverse privatizations made before Yushchenko came to power is "finished." JM
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT PRAISES NEW CABINET. In a prerecorded interview with four Ukrainian television channels on 4 October, Yushchenko said that the cabinet of Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov is one of "the most pragmatic governments" that possesses "fairly ideal conditions to work productively." According to Yushchenko, Yekhanurov's cabinet will manage to stabilize the economy by the end of this year. Yushchenko announced that some regional governors will be replaced but did not specify the regions concerned. He confirmed that he is not going to undertake any "destructive actions" against the political reform that is due to take effect in January. Yushchenko did not rule out his political reunion with former Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko but added: "It's impossible to make a technical repetition of that false start. We should speak about new qualities, new priorities, new relations. If Yuliya Volodymyrovna [Tymoshenko] identifies her goal as power and nothing but power, this is her choice. I'm not a partner here." JM