Ukraine has no military plans for occupied provinces: Ambassador
By Andrew Rosenbaum
The Ukrainian government has no military plans for the eastern provinces occupied by pro-Russian separatists, the Ukrainian ambassador to Turkey, Sergiy Korsunsky, has told The Anadolu Agency.
He said on Thursday: "We will not take military actions regarding the occupied areas. But Ukraine’s law, on special local self-government order in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions defines the status of these territories. According to the Minsk Agreement of February 12, 2015 (the Minsk-II), Russia and Russia-supported militants must revoke results of the illegal elections held on November 2, 2014 and enter into a discussion on holding local elections in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions in accordance with the Ukrainian legislation."
Korsunsky said that Ukraine expects that the Russian side and pro-Russian rebels will fulfill this obligation and that the central government will be able to hold elections in compliance with the Ukrainian legislation, and, after that, deal with the legal representatives of the local population of Donbas.
"Our priority is rather to work to improve conditions in our country, making the difference between policy of our government and the rebel administration become perfectly plain."
He explained: "For now, the conflict has generally stabilized, and almost all heavy weapons have been removed from the borders.
"This means that we can concentrate on economic objectives, to make life better for our citizens as quickly as possible."
In a speech in Washington in March, Ukrainian Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko emphasized the plans.
“We must stabilize the economy, reform the country, fight corruption, improve transparency and accountability, improve the rule of law,” Jaresko said last month.
Korsunsky explained: "The plan to decentralize the government is part of this plan.
"The essentials of the plan have been in place for a long time. We have regions that are producing earnings, and others that need help and support. The idea is to decentralize finance so that it can be used to greatest effect at the local level."
Korsunsky said that decentralization would take place at the level of the oblasts (regions), and town and city level.
"But there is absolutely no plan to federalize Ukraine. That is out of the question," he said.
Pro-Russian separatists have demanded the creation of federal states in Ukraine, so that the regions they occupy will have more autonomy.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has called the federalization concept "a kind of infection."
Korsunsky pointed out that the principal priority for the economy is fighting corruption, saying: "The fight against corruption is underway. The Anti-Corruption Bureau is going to do its job."
The Anti-Corruption Bureau has investigatory powers and a mandate to monitor senior public officials, who are now required to make full declarations of income with the bureau for signs of lifestyles which vary with their declared earnings.
The tender commission tasked with choosing candidates for the position of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau Head selected two candidates on Monday -- lawyers Artem Sytnyk and Mykola Siry who are subject to the approval of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
The head of Ukraine's State Emergencies Service, Serhiy Bochkovsky, and his deputy Vasyl Stoyetsky were handcuffed by police at a televised government session on March 25 and have been charged with high-level corruption.
Meanwhile, a large swathe of economic reforms has been passed by the parliament.
Korsunsky said: "The government will work to reform the fiscal system, seeking to eliminate injustices.
"The number of banks will also be reduced, with those that are simply engaged in non-banking activities or money-laundering to be closed down."
A plan for privatizing state industry is also in place with a list of non-strategic assets being drawn up.
Ukraine's judicial authorities also filed Tuesday legal challenges to tenders which had given leading businessmen control over key power companies under ousted president Viktor Yanukovych.
"That Ukraine is a target for foreign investment is shown by the recent action of Turkcell," Korsunsky said.
Turkey’s largest mobile operator in February won a 3G license in the country bidding $118 million.
"We will focus our actions on our priorities of attracting investment and improving the economy, and then we will see what effect that has on the occupied areas," Korsunsky said.