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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

OSCE HOLDS 'WORKSHOP' ON EU NEIGHBORHOOD POLICY IN BELARUS... A delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), led by Bundestag member Uta Zapf, held what it called a workshop on the EU Neighborhood Policy in Minsk on March 15, RFE/RL's Belarus Service and Belapan reported. The debate was attended by government officials and opposition activists. Jean-Eric Holzapfel from the Kyiv-based Delegation to Ukraine and Belarus of the European Commission said in Minsk that the European Union is prepared to move toward closer cooperation with Belarus and increase financial assistance as soon as the authorities release political prisoners, start respecting freedom of the press, abolish the death penalty, and make progress in democratic reform. Volha Abramava, a member of the Belarusian Chamber of Representatives, accused the European Union of seeking a change of government in the country. She said that the fulfillment of the EU demands by the Belarusian government would be viewed by the Belarusian people as a sign of its weakness. Another member of the Chamber of Representatives, Anatol Krasutski, called on the EU to end the "policy of sanctions and ultimatums." JM

UKRAINIAN PREMIER WANTS PRESIDENT TO PROPOSE NEW CANDIDATE FOR FOREIGN MINISTER. Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych said in a television interview on March 15 that President Viktor Yushchenko should nominate a new candidate for the post of foreign minister, Interfax-Ukraine reported. The Verkhovna Rada debated the candidacy of Volodymyr Ohryzko for the post earlier the same day but postponed its vote until March 20 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," March 15, 2007). Yanukovych is expected to meet with Yushchenko on March 19 to discuss Ohryzko's fate. The Verkhovna Rada already rejected Ohryzko as foreign minister in February. Commenting on the postponement of the vote on Ohryzko, Party of Regions parliamentary caucus leader Raisa Bohatyryova denied a journalist's allegation that the ruling coalition did so under pressure from Moscow. "You see the hand of the Kremlin everywhere but do not notice Bush's leg under yourself," Bohatyryova said on Inter television. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT APPEALS FOR DANISH SUPPORT FOR EU DEAL, SOCCER CHAMPIONSHIP IDEA. President Yushchenko told Danish journalists in Aarhus on March 15, the first day of his official visit to Denmark, that Ukraine needs Danish support in working out a new, enhanced agreement on cooperation with the European Union, Interfax-Ukraine reported. "We [also] need [Denmark's] support in the European Football Association's voting on the possible hosting of the Euro 2012 [soccer] championship by Ukraine and Poland," Yushchenko added. Speaking in the Danish parliament in Copenhagen later the same day, Yushchenko suggested establishing a "panel of wise men" composed of senior European figures with the experience and expertise needed to help Ukraine on its path toward EU membership He made the same proposal in a commentary titled "Realistic Kyiv" published in "The Wall Street Journal in Europe" on March 15. JM