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Shamshur: ‘Reform in Ukraine is eminent’

 
 

In the coming years, energy sector reform is something the Ukrainian government must address, said Oleh Shamshur, ambassador of Ukraine to the United States.
“Ukraine is currently consuming as much oil as Germany, but generating considerably less.” Shamshur said. “We (the Ukrainian government) hope to enlarge and expand our use of electrical energy.”
Shamshur spoke about the direction Ukraine has taken in regard to recent reform and progress at the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center Monday night as part of the Ambassadorial Forum.
Among other things, factors to be addressed are Ukraine’s energy strategy for the year 2013, further development of nuclear energy, improved efficiency and safety of nuclear power plants, and development of renewable sources of energy and their supply roots, Shamshur said.
Shamshur said Ukraine’s 2006 elections, which took place March 26, reflected a preference for political democracy. Election assessments indicated that Ukraine is undergoing a radical movement from its old soviet rule, he said.
“The voice of the people was clearly heard; the need for more consistent and profound reform in Ukraine is eminent,” Shamshur said.
Voter turnout for the elections comprised an estimated 68 percent of the voting population, although the election process was logistically difficult, Shamshur said. Although it was a success, Shamshur said the election process was difficult and left room for improvement.
“The elections were successful in that they were fair and democratic … Many say that the election process was the final test for the expansion of Ukrainian democracy,” Shamshur said. “The Administrative Court addressed all election complications and identified the aspects of the process that require particular development.”
One of the most profound steps the Ukrainian government has taken was the re-establishment of references to foreign markets, including America, Shamshur said. Ukraine is taking measures towards establishment as a member of NATO, and although the process has not run smoothly, it is moving in the right direction, he said.
“Voters have also accepted the idea of Ukraine’s inclusion in the European Union,” he said.
The Ukrainian parliament will convene soon, and hopefully a coalition agreement will be signed, Shamshur said.
The European Union is undergoing enlargement fatigue, said Johan Lembke, director for the European Union Center of Excellence.
“Increased Union involvement is a very positive thing; however, many countries involved all at once can negatively effect the function of the union, unless cooperative steps are taken to prevent such an incidence,” Lembke said.
The country proved it was a cooperative member of the international community by willingly surrendering its nuclear arsenal in an agreement signed in January of 1994, said Roman Popadiuk, executive director of the George Bush Presidential Library and former ambassador to Ukraine.
“The 2006 elections solidified the Ukrainian movement toward democracy and closed the door on the old soviet rule,” he said.
Even so, Popadiuk said that there appears to be a distinction between the populace and the ruling elite, the former being more apt to favor democracy.
“The switchover to democratic views and processes is an evolutionary change that Ukraine is undergoing,” Popadiuk said.

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