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Archive for March 27th, 2009

Ukraine’s defense minister, US ambassador discuss military cooperation

Posted by the Editor on March 27, 2009

News / 27 March 2009 | 17:30

Ukraine’s defense minister, US ambassador discuss military cooperation

Ukrainian Defense Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor discussed the state of bilateral military cooperation and prospects for its development at a meeting in Sevastopol on Thursday, the press center of the Ukrainian fleet’s command has told Interfax-Ukraine.

Taylor praised the level of cooperation between Ukrainian and U.S. servicemen and expressed confidence that this would continue, bolstering the development of democracy and openness in international relations.

Yekhanurov, in turn, said that Ukraine’s cooperation with its U.S. partners had reached its highest level and that it has become both needed and irreplaceable.

The defense minister is visiting Crimea to inspect the current state of Ukrainian army units, assess the level of their combat readiness, and study problems with the social protection of military men and their families.



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Ukrainian MFA sees Russia’s response to GTS modernization ‘very emotional’

Posted by the Editor on March 27, 2009

News / 27 March 2009 | 16:40

Ukrainian MFA sees Russia’s response to GTS modernization ‘very emotional’

The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is satisfied with the Brussels agreements on the modernization of the Ukrainian GTS and considers ’emotional’ a response of Russia’s top officials to these agreements.

Deputy Foreign Minister Kostiantyn Yeliseyev reminded that Ukraine was preparing this conference on a transparent and open basis, and the decision to hold the event was announced even in March 2008 at the Ukraine-EU Council meeting, UKRINFORM reported.

According to Yeliseyev, the theses envisaged in the declaration proceed from the accords between Ukraine and the EU that are included in the Memorandum of Understanding regarding energy cooperation signed in December 2005.

“It was clearly noted in the memorandum almost four years ago that the two parties will be holding activities to develop and modernize the infrastructure of energy sector… Ukraine and the EU will be cooperating to simplify attracting necessary investments into energy sector both on the part of international finance institutions and investors,” he noted.

The diplomat underlined that the Ukrainians invited Russia’s representatives to the conference last December. “I hope that emotions [of Russia’s top officials – ed.] will ease… and with joint efforts we: Ukraine, international finance institutions, and Gold willing – private capital and Russia, will be efficiently, fruitfully and mutually beneficially working to modernize the Ukrainian GTS, through which 80% of Russian gas is transited to Europe,” he said.

On March 23, the Ukrainian government, the European Commission, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the World Bank (WB) signed in Brussels a joint declaration following the International Investment Conference on the Modernization of Ukraine’s Gas Transit System.

According to the instrument, the Ukrainian government pledged to secure independence of the gas transit operator of Ukraine, in particular, through implementing the EC Directive of 2003 on the common rules for the internal market in electricity. The Ukrainian government promised to enable the gas transit operators to act on a commercial basis in order to fulfill their business plan in a long-term perspective. Ukraine also pledged to ensure an access of third parties to underground gas storages on transparent commercial conditions etc.

At the same time, the Russian delegation left the conference as its interests were not taken into account in this document.

Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko stated that Ukraine will engage Russia in the modernization project.

For his part, Russia’s Premier Vladimir Putin voiced concern as Ukraine may lose control of the GTS after signing of the declaration.

On March 24, Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev said that Russia had postponed inter-government consultations with Ukraine due to adoption of the memorandum on the development of Ukraine’s GTS.


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President holds meeting on energy saving

Posted by the Editor on March 27, 2009

News / 27 March 2009 | 15:48

President holds meeting on energy saving

In his address at yesterday’s meeting on efficient use of energy resources President Yushchenko criticized Ukrainian economy for low energy saving adding that this issue is critical for national security, presidential press office reported.

According to President Yushchenko despite the fact that in some sectors consumption of electricity has decreased in last decade almost twice, it remains three times higher than in European Union countries. In times of economic crisis it is unacceptable, he said.

Also the President pointed to the fact that Ukraine is the fourth leading among EU countries in possession of alternative energy sources, yet alternative energy consumption in Ukraine estimates to only 0,83% of total.

Victor Yushchenko criticized the Government for energy resources pricing policy saying that it does not stimulate energy saving. He also added that the policy of irrational consumption of energy resources puts a great burden on the budget when these funds could have been used for other purposes.

The President also criticized financing of state energy saving program and the program of supporting development of alternative renewable sources of energy, stressing that these two programs directly manage the abovementioned problems.

He expressed assurance that local authorities should be the first to promote and implement energy saving projects with support from central government. Therefore President Yushchenko instructed each region’s government to elaborate and approve energy saving programs of their own.


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President thankes Cabinet, Naftogaz

Posted by the Editor on March 27, 2009

News / 27 March 2009 | 15:00

President thankes Cabinet, Naftogaz

President Victor Yushchenko expressed gratitude to the Government and to Naftogaz of Ukraine for their active support of the initiative launched in 2006 on modernization of Ukraine’s gas transit system and bringing it to European Union standards, presidential press office reported.

He emphasized that March 23 International Investment Conference on the Modernization of Ukraine’s Gas Transit System became the final point in long multilateral talks and opened practical stage of implementation of the reached agreements.

According to Victor Yushchenko effective implementation of the agreements would raise Ukraine’s energy security, become an important step on the path of European integration and favor Ukraine’s image as reliable partner at energy market.

Therefore President Yushchenko requested the authorities to submit proposals to the Presidential Decree on the composition of Ukrainian coordinative working group and an action plan of implementation of the agreements reached in Brussels on March 23.


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Platini to visit Poland and Ukraine 2012 chiefs

Posted by the Editor on March 27, 2009

News / 27 March 2009 | 13:20

Platini to visit Poland and Ukraine 2012 chiefs

UEFA president Michel Platini will visit Poland and the Ukraine on April 15 and 16 to meet officials organising the troubled 2012 European Championships, according to AFP via Yahoo! News.”This visit is important because I will bring with me the top UEFA directors so that we can get a precise idea of what`s happening in Poland and the Ukraine,” explained Platini during a press conference here on Wednesday at the end of UEFA`s 33rd Ordinary Congress.

“We`ll spend one day in each country to listen to the presentations of the local organising committees on stadia, cities and infrastructures,” he added.

“We`re doing this because there`s a steering committee that will discuss everything at the beginning of May and I`d prefer to have seen the host cities in order to see the progress that is being made on the stadia and the cities.”

Regarding the preparation work, the former France international said that “the situation at the organisational level is not easy for Poland and the Ukraine, and it`s not easy for UEFA either”.

“But these two countries are working thoroughly and UEFA is also doing everything it can to take things forward,” he insisted.

Poland and the Ukraine were a surprise choice to host the tournament and have since been dogged by concerns about their ability to meet their commitments regarding the construction of stadia and the creation of transport and hotel infrastructures.


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Ukrainian citizens to decide on NATO membership – Ukraine’s Ambassador to Russia

Posted by the Editor on March 27, 2009

News / 27 March 2009 | 14:10

Ukrainian citizens to decide on NATO membership – Ukraine’s Ambassador to Russia

Deciding on NATO accession will be the Ukrainian citizens, but not Moscow, Washington or Brussels, Ukraine’s Ambassador to Russia Kostiantyn Hryshchenko said at the ‘K baryeru!’ TV program (‘Towards a Barrier!’) on the NTV channel during a discussion with Russia’s Representative to NATO Dmitry Rogozin, UKRIINFORM reported from Moscow.

Though there are various opinions and heated debates in Ukraine regarding Ukraine’s Alliance membership, these will be solely internal processes and external players should not influence them. “Kyiv is ready to discuss this theme with Moscow, adduce its arguments, but it will not take one or another decision under pressure either according to a wish of any external players,” Hryshchenko noted.

Answering Rogozin’s remark that the Ukrainian leadership allegedly ignores the opinion of its citizens in its Euro-Atlantic policy, Hryshchenko said that the Ukrainian elite has reached a consensus on the need to adopt a decision on NATO accession solely based on the returns of a nationwide referendum.

The Ukrainian diplomat noted that NATO’s problematics should not be artificially turned into a key point of bilateral relations with using of which the Ukraine-Russia cooperation is torpedoed in many important areas. “Kyiv and Moscow have much to talk about in addition to the theme of Euro-Atlantic integration. Especially amid the global financial and economic downturn,” the Ambassador stated.


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Vaccine scare threatens health in Ukraine

Posted by the Editor on March 27, 2009

News / 27 March 2009 | 12:30

Vaccine scare threatens health in Ukraine

A widespread scare about vaccine side effects in Ukraine has led to a sharp drop in immunizations that could result in disease outbreaks spreading beyond the former Soviet republic, international and local health officials say, according to AP.

Hundreds of thousands of fearful Ukrainians have refused vaccines for diseases such as diphtheria, mumps, polio, hepatitis B, tuberculosis, whooping cough and others this year, according to official estimates. Authorities have canceled a U.N.-backed measles and rubella vaccination campaign funded by U.S. philanthropist Ted Turner, and will have to collect and incinerate nearly 9 million unused doses in coming months.

“I never thought I`d see the day where perfectly good vaccines are being destroyed,” said Michael Bociurkiw, a spokesman for UNICEF.

Around the world, health officials say they are struggling with the repercussions of vaccine fears they call unwarranted and dangerous.

In 2003, imams in northern Nigeria fomented a boycott of polio vaccinations claiming they were a Western plot to make Muslims infertile or infect them with HIV. Authorities in Indonesia are discussing a plan to end childhood immunizations against a number of diseases out of fears that foreign drug companies are using the country as a testing ground. A budding movement of parents getting exemptions from pre-school vaccination laws is seen as partly responsible for a spike in U.S. measles cases.

Experts blame the Ukrainian scare on government mismanagement and irresponsible media coverage of an anti-vaccination campaign launched after the May death of a 17-year-old boy who had received a combined shot for measles and rubella.

Activists including members of the homeopathic and alternative healing industries blamed his death on the vaccination. Ukrainian authorities said they needed to investigate and halted the campaign to revaccinate 9 million Ukrainians aged 16-29 for measles — a leading cause of childhood death — and rubella, which can cause serious birth defects.

The Ukrainian Health Ministry and World Health Organization concluded that the boy died of septic shock from a bacterial infection unrelated to the vaccine. But the ministry decided last month to terminate the revaccination campaign, saying there was no longer enough time to administer the vaccines before they expire this summer and that people would refuse the shots.

Over 4.5 million Ukrainians, mostly children, are vaccinated for a wide variety of diseases each year in the country of 46 million. Health authorities say spreading fears of immunization were largely responsible for an estimated 10 percent drop in the vaccination rate since May.

“This threatens to lead to a spike in the number of infectious diseases,” said Lyudmyla Mukharskaya, the country`s deputy chief public health official. “There will be outbreaks, especially among children.”

Ukraine has had two major outbreaks of measles since 200. Ukrainians aged 16-29 have proven to be highly susceptible, apparently because of an ineffective vaccination campaign carried out in the 1990s, when the country was in economic crisis following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

If Ukraine cannot revaccinate at least 95 percent of the estimated 9 million people who got deficient vaccines in the `90s, UNICEF says, the next outbreak could be even bigger.

“There are concerns that the measles disease could be exported to other European countries where Ukrainians travel,” Bociurkiw said.

Independent health experts say government mistakes were a major factor in the vaccine scare. Prosecutors briefly detained the country`s chief public health official after the teen`s death and claimed that the vaccine, which was certified by WHO, was imported into the country without proper authorization.

Dr. Fedir Lapiy, an expert in infectious diseases based in Kiev, said prosecutors appeared to have used the case to promote themselves and discredit political opponents.

“It looked more like a PR campaign than a thorough probe,” Lapiy said.

Ukraine has an educated population but rumors and misperceptions spread easily. Constant political turmoil and a devastating financial crisis — one of the worst in Europe — has fueled mistrust of Ukraine`s crumbling health care system, and authorities in general.

“It is sad to see the population of a country in the middle of Europe refusing to get immunized,” said Andrei Tulisov, an infectious disease and immunization specialist at WHO.

Ukrainian media outlets are numerous and uncensored but do not widely follow Western standards of fairness and accuracy. Some print and online reports alleged after the boy`s death that the Indian-made measles and rubella vaccine would sterilize men as part of a plot by Ted Turner, whose Washington-based United Nations Foundation charity paid for the vaccines.

“This kind of scare tactic coupled with the death of the boy struck the fear of God into a lot of young people and parents,” Bociurkiw said.

Nina Zaichenko, a 25-year-old interior designer in Kiev, says she has decided not to immunize her 1-year-old daughter, Dasha, against any diseases until at least the age of 3. She fears the infant`s body is still to weak to handle vaccinations and she does not trust the local health system to acquire and properly store high-quality vaccines.

“The chances of a child getting sick from a vaccine and from the disease itself are equal,” Zaichenko said, an assertion experts say has no basis in the truth. “It`s a hard choice for parents to make.”

UNICEF says it believes only up to 30 percent of Ukrainians who need revaccination for measles and rubella would turn up if the campaign were restarted today. Only 400,000 people received vaccines before the campaign was stopped.

The Health Ministry says it will work to promote the need for immunizations among the population, and look for ways to launch a new measles and rubella vaccination campaign.


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Tymoshenko: Ukraine is keen on cooperation with Japan and has a huge potential for maintaining mutually beneficial relations

Posted by the Editor on March 27, 2009

News / 27 March 2009 | 11:40

Tymoshenko: Ukraine is keen on cooperation with Japan and has a huge potential for maintaining mutually beneficial relations

Ukraine and Japan are capable of building mutually beneficial cooperation. The Prime Minister of Ukraine Yulia Tymoshenko announced while making a statement at the Forum of political, business and scientific elite of Japan.

According to Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine is keen on realization of joint investment projects with Japan. She assured Japanese business will be thoroughly supported in Ukraine, Government portal reported.

The Premier stressed today Ukraine and Japan can cooperate, in particular along such key directions as nuclear power engineering and agrarian sector. According to her, these projects call for huge expenses and efforts though will bring large returns. At this, Yulia Tymoshenko accentuated Ukraine is among the leaders in nuclear power engineering and possesses one third of all black soils in the world.

The Head of Government informed Japanese investors could realize in Ukraine projects on construction of new grain elevators to store crops.

Besides, the Prime Minister of Ukraine announced Ukraine is greatly interested in realization of joint projects in energy domain. According to Yulia Tymoshenko, nowadays the showing of energy saving in Ukraine is almost 19 times lower than that of Japan, which appears the world leader in energy saving, energy effectiveness and environmental protection issues.

The Head of Government stressed for the 17 years of independence of Ukraine great efforts have been paid for the development of democracy within the state but nothing has been done for modernization and reconstruction of its key systems of activity.

According to her, to realize the programs on reconstruction and modernization Ukraine plans to use three sources of financing, notably the Stabilization Fund of the State Budget in the amount of USD 5 bn, funds from sales of quotas for reduction of harmful emissions into the atmosphere and at the account of crediting of Japanese companies by the State Bank of Japan.

Yulia Tymoshenko imparted this day she had a meeting with the president and executive director of Japan Bank for International Cooperation Hiroshi Watanabe which dealt with a possibility to increase by USD 0.5 bn the credit line along all the projects strengthening the export of Japan.

The Head of Government also confirmed intention to further cooperate with Japan in the framework of Kyoto Protocol.

The Premier believes by means of realizing joint projects with Japan Ukraine can weather the crisis stronger but not impaired: “Ukraine takes a great interest in the development of bipartite cooperation with Japan. We have a potential which can bring mutually beneficial result. Investments Japan is ready to put into Ukraine are not only investments into economics but also investments into strengthening of independence and freedom of Ukraine”.


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