Qatar interested in Ukraine’s experience in organizing and hosting Euro 2012.
Doha – The official delegations of Ukraine and Qatar held a working meeting in Doha on Tuesday, during which they discussed bilateral economic cooperation.
An Interfax-Ukraine reporter said that the Ukrainian delegation had been represented by Foreign Minister Kostiantyn Hryschenko, Energy and Coal Industry Minister Yuriy Boiko, Defense Minister Dmytro Salamatin and businessmen Victor Pinchuk and Oleksandr Yaroslavsky. The main topics of the discussion were priority sectors for the strengthening of international economic relations – oil and gas industry, aviation and agriculture.
Particular attention was paid to the possibility of using Ukraine’s experience in Qatar’s preparations for the finals of the 2022 World Cup. In particular, Hryschenko introduced President of DCH Group and FC Metalist Kharkiv Oleksandr Yaroslavsky to the members of the Qatari delegation and proposed using his experience of infrastructure construction and management of the key facilities of the Euro 2012 tournament.
In addition, the question of Ukrainian-Qatari cooperation in the sphere of preparations for Euro 2012 was raised at a meeting between Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani and Yaroslavsky.
As reported, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych arrived on an official visit to Qatar on November 27. In Doha, Yanukovych met with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.
After the ceremony chaired by the Ukrainian president and the emir of Qatar the delegations of the two countries held negotiations in a broad format.
Yanukovych also participated in the presentation of Ukrainian national projects that are being implemented on the initiative of the Ukrainian president.Yanukovych’s official visit to Qatar will last until November 28.
Ukraine: the $1bn deal that never was.
Ukraine’s government on Monday rolled out the red carpet for a highly-publicised signing ceremony for a landmark energy deal.
But the event, attended by Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and Energy Minister Yuriy Boyko, quickly spiralled into a fiasco, with denials and confusion over what has actually been signed – and by whom.
“This is a historic moment… We’ve taken the first really big step in securing Ukraine’s energy independence,” Azarov announced proudly in Kiev, and ordered construction to begin on a project involving the building of Ukraine’s first LNG terminal.
Live video feed demonstrated welders far away in Odessa region at work as they commenced construction on a pipeline that would connect Ukraine’s vast gas transit network with the proposed Black Sea coast LNG terminal.
Minutes later, with Azarov and Boyko looking on, attention turned to a signing ceremony between “investors” and Vlad Kaskiv, head of Ukraine’s state investment agency.
Journalists were told by Kaskiv that the “investors” had signed agreements to lead a newly-formed consortium – still open to other partners – to build the terminal at a cost of $1.1bn.
Upon completion in coming years, Kaskiv said the LNG terminal would allow Ukraine to import 5-10 bn cubic metres of gas shipped by tanker at a cost 20 per cent lower than the price Ukraine is charged by Russia’s Gazprom.
So far, so good.
The lead investor in the new consortium was identified by Kaskiv as Gas Natural Fenosa, the Spanish energy group. Signing on behalf of Fenosa was a Spanish-speaking man that Kaskiv and his subordinates identified as Jordi Sarda Bonvehi (pictured above, left).
Herein lies the problem.
Officials at Gas Natural Fenosa claim they don’t know Sarda Bonvehi. They say he does not represent their company or its subsidiaries. And, the company has not signed any agreement with Ukraine.
Shocked by news reports suggesting Gas Natural Fenosa had signed agreements to join the consortium, and lead efforts to raise financing for it, the company’s press service issued the following statement:
Gas Natural Fenosa has not signed any contract to invest in a LNG plant project in Ukraine, nor is it leading any consortium whatsoever for the development of the aforementioned terminal. Gas Natural Fenosa has nothing under study in this regard, nor does it have representatives working in Ukraine on this issue. We categorically deny the news reports which have been circulating throughout the day in various media.
Here’s where it gets really strange.
Ukrainian officials claim to be baffled by Gas Natural Fenosa’s statement. They claim to still believe that an agreement was reached with Gas Natural Fenosa. Speaking with beyondbrics, Kaskiv said it was the understanding of his state investment agency that Sarda Bonvehi represents the interests of Gas Natural Fenosa. He and other Ukrainian officials claim to have held negotiations with Gas Natural Fenosa, with Sarda Bonvehi playing the role of a negotiator of sorts. Officials at Gas Natural Fenosa steadfastly deny this.
Beyondbrics tried to talk to Sarda Bonvehi at the signing, but he declined to comment.
Describing the turn of events as “disappointing,” a spokesperson for Ukraine’s prime minster stressed that the country would pursue construction of the strategic LNG terminal – with or without Gas Natural Fenosa, or other investors.
But with its 2012 budget deficit widening, with its economy on the verge of economic recession and government cut off from billions of dollars of International Monetary Fund loans due to lacklustre reform efforts, does Ukraine’s government have the financial fire power to bankroll this project alone? Or will it fall into the hands of billionaire oligarchs that have deep pockets, but already have a powerful hold the country’s economy?
EU urges Ukraine to free Prime Minister Tymoshenko.
European Union officials warned Ukraine on Friday that the ex-Soviet nation can’t integrate with the EU as long as former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko remains in jail.
The jailing of Tymoshenko, the country’s top opposition leader and the heroine of the 2004 Orange Revolution, has strained Ukraine’s relations with the 27-member bloc, which has condemned the move as politically motivated and frozen a key cooperation agreement with Kiev.
“The issue of selective justice needs to be addressed in order to move ahead to a new level of our relations through the association agreement,” Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule said in a joint statement.
The statement dealt a blow to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who vowed earlier in the day that the conduct of October’s parliamentary election will convince the EU that Ukraine is on the right track.
“We are actively moving toward signing an association agreement between Ukraine and the European Union,” Yanukovych told a conference devoted to Ukraine’s EU integration in the Black Sea city of Yalta. “At the moment, our partners have some additional questions for Ukraine, but I am convinced that after the current parliamentary elections, all those concerns will disappear and the path toward full integration of Ukraine and the EU will be completed.”
In the elections, Yanukovych’s Party of Regions will struggle to retain its parliamentary majority against the opposition, united and re-energized by Tymoshenko’s jailing.
Bildt and Fule expressed concern that the election will take place without Tymoshenko and another top opposition leader who served in her government and stressed that the legitimacy of the vote will depend on whether it is free and fair.
“Of course, it’s impossible to do everything as fast as we would like to do,” a visibly irritated Yanukovych said. “The path of reform is not a simple path, but we have been following it and will continue following it.”
Tymoshenko, Yanukovych’s fiercest critic, was sentenced to seven years in prison last October on charges of abuse of office while negotiating a natural gas import contract with Russia in 2009. She denies all the charges against her and accuses Yanukovych of throwing her in jail to bar her from the election.
Tymoshenko was the heroine of the 2004 Orange Revolution mass protests, which annulled Yanukovych’s fraud-tainted election victory and brought a pro-Western government to power. However, Yanukovych was able to return to power, narrowly defeating Tymoshenko in a 2010 presidential vote by riding a public irritation over slow reforms and constant bickering in the Orange camp.
The opposition and rights groups accuse Yanukovych of concentrating too much power in his hands and undoing many of the democratic achievements of the Orange Revolution.
Tymoshenko’s top aide Hrihoriy Nemyria said that Ukraine is doomed to isolation as long as Tymoshenko is kept in jail. “It means that Yanukovych does not have an answer, it means that Yanukovych and Europe are still incompatible,” Nemyria told the AP.
Ukraine’s wheat exports likely to fall from November.
Ukraine’s monthly wheat exports will fall sharply starting from November or December as traders deplete the agreed quota aimed at ensuring stable local bread prices after a fall in 2012 wheat output, the Agriculture Ministry said on Tuesday. “The contracts that have already been signed will be fulfilled and starting from November or December wheat exports will be 50,000 to 100,000 tonnes per month,” Serhiy Kvasha, the head of the ministry’s markets department, told reporters.
Ukraine exported 824,000 tonnes of wheat last month. Ukraine’s wheat harvest fell to 16.3 million tonnes bunker weight in 2012 from 22.3 million tonnes clean weight in 2011. Bunker weight usually exceeds clean weight by 5 to 7 percent. Analysts and traders forecast the 2012 wheat crop at about 14 million tonnes in clean weight. Ukraine consumes about 12 million tonnes of wheat per season.
The ministry and grain traders’ unions earlier this month agreed on 2012/13 maximum export volumes of 19.4 million tonnes of grain, including 4.0 million of wheat. Traders have said the government may limit wheat exports in early 2013 in a bid to prevent a jump in domestic grain prices after the wheat harvest declined this year.
Ukrainian court postpones Tymoshenko appeal.Ukraine’s prime minister said Tuesday that his predecessor had been correctly convicted of abusing her powers in signing a gas deal with Russia, and invited European observers to watch her appeal.
On a visit to Brussels, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said his predecessor, Yulia Tymoshenko had been convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison by a judiciary that was free and independent. Tymoshenko’s appeal, however, was postponed in Ukraine on Tuesday on what her lawyers called political grounds.
Azarov invited observers from the European Union nations to Ukraine to watch the appeal process.
“They can review the documents. They can learn more about the procedure and they can listen to the arguments,” Azarov told reporters through a translator.
Azarov said it was already clear she falsified documents that led Ukraine to pay $8 billion a year extra for a gas contract with Russia. Last year, the prosecutor office said Tymoshenko’s actions cost the state 3.5 billion hryvna ($440 million) in damages.
The 27-nation European Union has criticized her sentence as being politically motivated.
Tymoshenko has accused President Viktor Yanukovych, the longtime rival who narrowly defeated her in the 2010 presidential election, of jailing her to prevent her from posing a challenge in October parliamentary elections.
Prosecutors argued Tuesday that the appeal should be postponed because Tymoshenko is undergoing medical treatment for a back condition in a hospital in Kharkiv, the city where she is imprisoned, and would be unable to appear in court in Kiev, the capital.
In ruling in favor of the prosecution, the High Specialized Court for Civil and Criminal Cases set a new date of June 26, which falls near the end of the European soccer championship.
Some EU officials and governments have vowed to boycott the games in Ukraine over Tymoshenko’s imprisonment.
Tymoshenko’s lawyer, Serhiy Vlasenko, condemned the postponement.
“Today’s decision is complete nonsense on the level of the country’s highest court,” he told reporters. “Today, Yanukovych has again spat in the face of Europe.”
He said the delay was aimed at preventing Tymoshenko from appealing to the European Court of Human Rights, which can be done only after the appeals process has been exhausted at home, but Vlasenko said they would go ahead and do so anyway.
Azarov insisted Ukraine’s judicial institutions were impartial and invited EU observers to come check it during Tymoshenko’s appeal.
“We are ready to invite to this process the representatives of the judicial services of the european countries. They can review the documents. They can learn more about the procedure and they can listen to the arguments,” he said.