Ukraine: President vs Premier

Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko said at a press conference on Thursday that relations with the country's Prime Minister, Viktor Yanukovich, are becoming increasingly difficult.

Mr Yushchenko blamed the constitutional reform adopted at the beginning of the year, which transformed Ukraine into  parliamentary republic, as the reason. Since the prime minister's powers were upgraded, disputes have arisen over such issues as the appointment and dismissal of cabinet ministers.

Viktor Yushchenko wants the new team that came to power to maintain the previous course.

He assured he was not going to dissolve the Rada, Ukraine's parliament. He will only resort to this measure if the parliament does not approve the draft budget 2007, which is a current bone of contention between President Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yanukovich.

Meanwhile, the controversy over the dismissal of Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Boris Tarsyuk simmers. While Viktor Yushchenko claims the issue is a presidential prerogative, the prime minister argues this is the responsibility of the Cabinet and the governing parliamentary coalition.

President Yushchenko declared Boris Tarsyuk would retain his ministerial portfolio until the president decided to remove it.

During the press conference Viktor Yushchenko also touched upon the preliminary agenda for talks with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin who is due to arrive to Kiev on December 22.

The presidents are expected to discuss, among other issues, an agreement on demarcation and delimitation of  land and sea borders, as well as the status of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in the Crimea.

They will also deal with a gas agreement. Although it was signed by both sides, President Yushchenko wants to clear up the question of the prices. He remarked that the formula on which the calculations were based was not evident for him, and he would like to understand the political and emotional factors involved.