Yanukovych Will Visit EU Before Russia
- Feb. 24 2010 00:00
- Last edited 19:47
BRUSSELS — Ukrainian President-elect Viktor Yanukovych will visit Brussels before Moscow to show his commitment to developing relations with Europe, a European Union official said Tuesday.
"He is coming on Monday," said the EU official, who declined to be identified. "Yanukovych wants to send a clear message to Europe by going to Europe on his first foreign trip."
Yanukovych, who will be sworn in Thursday, has not announced a firm date for visiting Moscow but is expected to go by March 10.
Yanukovych will meet EU President Herman Van Rompuy while in Brussels, the official said, and is also expected to meet EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who will attend Thursday's inauguration.
Yanukovych won an election runoff on Feb. 7. He narrowly defeated Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who dropped a legal challenge to the outcome on Saturday. She said she could not trust the court to fairly consider the evidence.
Tymoshenko, meanwhile, has renewed her attacks on Yanukovych and rejected any post-election deal with him.
In a televised statement Monday, she accused him of already beginning to sell off Ukraine's gas pipeline network — a sensitive issue since it touches on relations with Russia — and predicted that he would not stay in power for long.
"Yanukovych, who came to power by lies, is not our president, and he will not last long," she said.
"I want to say that I would not, under any circumstances, create a coalition together with Yanukovych," she said.
Tymoshenko has refused to resign as prime minister despite a request from Yanukovych, and his Party of the Regions is trying to form a coalition in the parliament to replace her.
Yanukovych on Sunday named three possible candidates for the post of prime minister: businessman Sergei Tigipko, former Foreign Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and former Finance Minister Mykola Azarov, who is also a member of his Party of the Regions.
"We expect a result by the end of this coming week," Yanukovych told the Ukraina television station in an interview.
Tigipko, 50, and Yatsenyuk, 35, have presented themselves as pragmatists who would be able to undertake tough reforms as Ukraine reels from a deep economic crisis. Russian-born Azarov, 63, leans more toward Moscow and traditional state regulation.
As president, Yanukovych has no formal part in creating a coalition, but his party will be in talks with other factions in the parliament to decide on a program and new prime minister.