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Wednesday, 1 December 2004

Polish President takes part in the second round of talks of the Ukrainian Round Table

On 1 December 2004, Aleksander Kwaśniewski, the President of the Republic of Poland, traveled for the second time - within the space of the last few days - to Kiev to meet the parties to the political conflict that continues to fester in Ukraine from the day the Central Elections Commission announced the results of the presidential elections.

Together with Javier Solana, the European Union’s Foreign Policy Chief, and Valdas Adamkus, the President of Lithuania, the Polish President conducted talks with Ukrainian politicians as the result of which the sides met at the Ukrainian ‘Round Table’ for a second round of talks.

Besides the mediators, the meeting was attended by: the presidential candidates, Viktor Yushchenko and Viktor Yanukovich, the outgoing president, Leonid Kuchma, the OSEC representative, Jan Kubisz, the Ukrainian Parliament Speaker, Volodimir Litvin and the Speaker of Russian Parliament, Boris Grizlov.

Remarking on the meeting, President Aleksander Kwaśniewski said that there was no clear indication in the agreed compromise as to how the repeat vote was to be held. “A formula was hammered out that is neither of one nor of the other side” said the Polish President. The President went onto say that all parties concerned should await the decision of the Supreme Court that was reviewing the opposition’s electoral complains, but “Poland is firmly for repeating the run-off ballot”. The President also added that the parties planned to hold a consecutive roundtable meeting once the decision of the Supreme Court had been made known.

Briefing journalists at the conclusion of the second meeting of the Ukrainian ‘Round Table’ Aleksander Kwaśniewski said:

The second roundtable meeting is over. It was an exacting meeting, preceded by face-to-face talks with Mr. Viktor Yushchenko, Mr. Volodimir Litvin and President Kuchma. Today, we sat to the table as a two-person team with Minister Cimoszewicz moreover in a double role, not only as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland, but also as the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe; and it was in that latter hat that he joined the roundtable. We were able to reach agreement on some material issues but obviously that does not conclusively resolve all points of contention. This said, we did make much headway in relation to the position reached on Friday. First of all, the parties confirmed that which lies at the very foundation of the Friday accord: no strong-arm tactics, no use of force in place of political dialogue. Today’s meeting attests that the political dialogue is held on course. And this dialogue is beginning to assume some shape of substance. Three very important points have been agreed today. Experts are commencing work so as to be in a position to put forward, as soon as the Supreme Court issues a decision, some practical solutions for bringing the presidential election procedure to a conclusive end. For the moment it has not been in any way resolved yet what procedural form it should take, but I do know that we want the procedure to be carried to a close as soon as possible so that Ukraine has a legally elected president with a legitimate title to the office by virtue of having been chosen following a democratic procedure. The second point is the agreement to proceed with constitutional reform that has been the subject of national debate the past two and half years. The experts will draft the required amendments. But really important is for the changes to be enacted which would make it possible to put in place more orderly rules regulating relations between different branches of the state, effect some devolution of power and mark out more transparent lines delimiting competences of various state organs and planes for their cooperation. And the third point of the political agreement provides that following the constitutional reform a new government will be formed – in keeping with the newly enacted constitutional provisions – one that will have a broad social mandate and a firm power base commanding the majority of parliamentary votes. And these are the major substantive points of today’s agreement. At the same time I want to tell you that the time for implementing all these measures is running short. If there were to be another round of elections – and this, as I stressed, is still an open question – the repeat run-off taking place on 19December, then all legal and formal issues would have to be dealt with and resolved by Sunday. So this is a race against the time that Parliament, Yushchenko’s “Our Ukraine”, Yanukovich’s political supporters, all those who have set their minds on overcoming the present crisis and restoring stability in Ukraine, are now struggling hard to win.
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