NATO chief in Ukraine: Kyiv has set very ambitious goal

Published in World
Tuesday, 29 November 2016 11:59

The head of NATO’s mission to Ukraine says that in seeking to adopt the standards of the US-led military alliance by 2020, Kyiv has set itself “a very ambitious goal,” which will involve “a fundamental change in mindsets.”
In an interview with the Kyiv Post, Alexander Vinnikov said the NATO allies want Ukraine “to become a success story,” but says the nation “should make full use of the current window of opportunity to make tangible progress.”
Since Russia launched its war on Ukraine in the Donbas in the spring of 2014, with armed groups supported by Moscow and backed by Russian troops taking over parts of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts, the need for sweeping change within Ukraine’s armed forces came into sharp focus.
With Ukraine only able to field around 6,000 combat-ready troops at the onset of the war, a massive volunteer effort came to the rescue and is credited with saving the country in the face of the Kremlin’s aggression. But in the wake of bloody battles and long casualty lists at Ilovaisk, Donetsk airport and Debaltseve, the need for deep reform and modernization away from Soviet-era military standards became undeniable.
After the Ukrainian military’s shortcomings in logistics, manpower and equipment were exposed, NATO increased its support activities in Ukraine to unprecedented levels.
Ukraine’s plan to achieve NATO military standards was made official in September 2015, when President Petro Poroshenko signed the National Defense Doctrine, which states the country’s goal is to make its military NATO-compliant by 2020. The roadmap for reaching those standards, The Strategic Defense Bulletin, was finally unveiled last summer. Ihor Dolhov, Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister, told the Kyiv Post earlier this month that the country has a list of some 600 points which require attention.

Ukraine one step closer to visa liberalisation

Published in World
Friday, 18 November 2016 17:10
The Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) agreed, on behalf of the Council, a negotiating position on visa liberalisation for Ukraine on 17 November. It confirmed the Commission proposal to provide visa-free travel for EU citizens to the territory of Ukraine and for Ukrainians when travelling to the EU, for a stay of 90 days in any 180-day period.
The Council takes the view that the entry into force of visa liberalisation for Ukraine should take place at the same time as the entry into force of the new suspension mechanism. The mechanism was strengthened in the context of the current migratory situation in the EU, and makes it easier for EU member states to notify of circumstances which might lead to a suspension of visa-free travel.
On the basis of this mandate, the presidency will start negotiations with the European Parliament.
Visa exemption does not provide for the right to work in the EU. Other entry conditions for accessing the Schengen area will continue to apply, including the need to prove sufficient financial means and the purpose of the journey. 

Cashless Ukraine Summit

Published in World
Wednesday, 09 November 2016 21:45

Digital-revolution is rapidly changing our world! Contactless payments, mobile money and innovative financial services break down traditional borders and stereotypes, opening new opportunities and prospects.

The 2016 Cashless Ukraine Summit organized by Visa will be held on Wednesday, November 9, 2016 in Kyiv.

The goal of the Summit is to bring together thought leaders in economic and financial education, businessmen, young scholars and media to discuss innovations in electronic payments and how financial literacy can serve to promote a cashless society.

Draft Agenda
8.45-9.30 Registration. Refreshments. Social Media Photo Shoot
9.30-9.35 Inspiring Remarks by Moderator
Tymofiy Mylovanov, Honorary President, Kyiv School of Economics; Deputy Chairman, Council, National Bank of Ukraine
9.35-9.50 ‘Cashless Breakthrough’ (Brief Opening Remarks)
The speakers of the opening session emphasize the importance of innovative technology and the increased role of electronic payments in today’s world as it rapidly moves toward cashless society. Ukraine should be actively involved in this process and take advantage of the opportunities it presents.
Mandy Lamb, Group Country Manager for CIS SEE, Visa
Video Greeting: Valeriya Hontareva, Governor, National Bank of Ukraine
Dmytro Shymkiv, Deputy Head, Ukraine’s President Administration (TBC)
Yakiv Smolii, Deputy Governor, National Bank of Ukraine (TBC)
Andy Woolnough, Vice President, Corporate Relations, Visa
9.50-11.00 Power of Innovative Knowledge in a Cashless Economy
In a rapidly changing world, knowledge increasingly interconnects and even overlaps with innovative technology, e-commerce and electronic & mobile payments. Innovative knowledge should address existing barriers and myths and serve as a key driver of cashless economy.
Speaker from Europe (TBC)

Eric Benz, Co-Founder, Credits, UK (in a partnership with “Future” magazine) -
Nino Masurashvili, Retail Director; Deputy CEO, JSC TBC Bank Georgia

Ana Nives Radovic, PhD; Fintech Analyst, Lecturer and Editor, Montenegro

11.00-11.20 ‘Got to Be Cashless’ by Volodymyr Lavrenchuk, Chairman of the Board, Raiffeisen Bank Aval

Global development trends focused on promoting innovative technology and cashless transactions require new, creative approaches in communicating with target audiences.

Ukraine needs new political elite-Mikheil Saakashvili

Published in Politics
Wednesday, 09 November 2016 16:05

New political elite is needed in Ukraine and I will actively be involved in its creating process- this statement was made by the Former Governor of Odessa. According to Mikheil Saakashvili, Ukraine is in the situation Georgia was in 2001. The reforms have stopped. There is a corruption. People are unsatisfied.
“We did a lot in Odessa but our main goal is to survive Ukraine,”-Mikheil Saakashvili said.

Former Georgian President Saakashvili Resigns as Ukrainian Governor in Protest

Published in Politics
Tuesday, 08 November 2016 14:38

Mikheil Saakashvili, a former president of Georgia who was brought into the Ukraine government to set an example of transparency and clean government, resigned on Monday and accused Ukraine’s president of supporting corruption.
Mr. Saakashvili, who was appointed governor of the Black Sea region of Odessa by President Petro O. Poroshenko in May 2015, said he was leaving because of the central government’s unrelenting obstruction of his efforts to root out graft.
“The president personally supports two clans,” Mr. Saakashvili told a group of journalists. “Odessa can only develop once Kiev will be freed from these bribe takers, who directly patronize organized crime and lawlessness.”
In a terse statement, Mr. Poroshenko’s office said it would accept Mr. Saakashvili’s resignation once it had been submitted by the cabinet. In Odessa, Mr. Saakashvili and a team of young reformists tried to tackle the acceptance of bribes in the corruption-plagued customs service and to make government services more responsive and transparent.
Yet, government officials in Kiev thwarted those efforts, Mr. Saakashvili said, because they interfered with the various enrichment schemes that allowed many of them to amass fortunes. Mr. Saakashvili said his plan to open a new customs service center in Odessa was undone when the money allocated for its refurbishment was stolen.
He noted that some top-level government figures listed millions of dollars in savings in cash and other assets in financial disclosures that were mandated by the International Monetary Fund. One minister declared bottles of wine worth thousands of dollars each.
Mr. Saakashvili, a bitter opponent of Russia and its president, Vladimir V. Putin, was one of several foreign politicians and specialists who were brought to Ukraine after the 2014 pro-Western revolution to start a broad modernization of the country.
But there was always deep skepticism about whether Ukraine was capable of such a transformation, and many of those figures have since become disillusioned and resigned. In February, the economy minister, Aivaras Abromavicius stepped down, saying that he did not want to act as a “smoke screen” for corruption. The American-born finance minister, Natalie A. Jaresko, left the Ukrainian government in April.
Taming corruption was widely seen as crucial for proving the legitimacy of Ukraine’s pro-Western leadership, especially in contrast with Mr. Putin’s Russia.
In October, Mr. Saakashvili’s political party in Georgia suffered a painful defeat in parliamentary elections, ending the prospect of his return to that country, where he faces multiple charges that he says are politically motivated.
Standing in front of Odessa’s seaport, Mr. Saakashvili signaled that he would continue to be involved in Ukrainian politics. One of his allies, Ukraine’s former deputy prosecutor David Sakvarelidze, recentlystarted a new political party that cites Mr. Saakashvili as its “ideologist

Russia wants to use military force against neighbors Crimea, Ukraine and Georgia-NATO Secretary General

Published in Politics
Thursday, 27 October 2016 11:45

"NATO does not seek confrontation with Russia,"- this statement was made by the Secretary General of NATO. According to him,  Alliance doesn’t want a new cold war and doesn't want a new arms race and therefore what NATO does is defensive and it is proportionate.
"At the same tme, NATO has to react when we over a long period of time have seen a substantial military build-up by Russia and we have seen them modernizing their military capabilities and most importantly we have seen them willing to use military force against neighbors Crimea, Ukraine and also Georgia and we also saw a threatening rhetoric from Russia. So NATO has to respond to continue to deliver credible deterrence in a new security environment and we have to remember that the reason why we delivered deterrence, why NATO is strong is not because we want to provoke a conflict, but it is because we want to prevent a conflict; and the best way to do that is to stay strong, united and be firm in our response,"-Jans Stoltenberg said. 

Spot Report by OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine

Published in World
Monday, 17 October 2016 10:20

In the morning of 16 October, from several positions in both government-controlled Zolote (60km north-west of Luhansk) and government-controlled Katerynivka (64km west of Luhansk), an SMM patrol composed of five members observed a steady exchange of fire ranging 4-6km east of all positions. The SMM heard over 60 explosions assessed as caused by mortar (82mm and 120mm) rounds, and sporadic bursts of automatic-grenade-launcher (AGS-17, 30mm) and heavy-machine-gun fire for over one hour and a half.
At 11:52 from the SMM’s position within the perimeter of an observation post of Zolote, the patrol heard whistling past them, less than one second apart, what were assessed to be two heavy-machine-gun bullets, approximately 2m east of the patrol’s position. The SMM heard the bullets impact, at least one on the concrete observation post structure, but did not see the impacts. After hearing the impacts, the SMM took cover behind the west-facing wall of and inside the observation post structure. SMM vehicles were parked nearby. The patrol members were wearing clearly marked OSCE clothing (helmets and jackets with OSCE logos) and were accompanied by two Ukrainian Armed Forces officers at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC), who also took cover. The SMM patrol members then retreated to their vehicles and at 11:57 left the spot. The SMM could not determine the direction of fire. The SMM returned safely to its base in government-controlled Sievierodonetsk (74km north-west of Luhansk). The SMM is following up the JCCC.

Ukraine: only ‘significant progress’ by Russia can form basis for full-fledged dialogue

Published in World
Thursday, 13 October 2016 10:55

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has said that only “significant and measurable progress” by Russia towards implementation of three recent resolutions* of the Assembly can form the basis for restoration of a fully-fledged, mutually respectful dialogue.
In a resolution on the political consequences of Russian aggression in Ukraine, based on a report by Kristýna Zelienková (Czech Republic, ALDE), PACE called on Russia to “reverse the illegal annexation of Crimea and allow Ukraine to regain control of the peninsula”, to withdraw its troops from the territory of Ukraine and stop military supplies to separatists.
It also condemned the recent Duma elections held in occupied Crimea as “a blunt violation of international law” which effectively compromised the legitimacy of the Russian parliament.
The Assembly warned of the development of a “frozen” or “semi-frozen” conflict, prolonging instability and insecurity in Ukraine and the whole of Europe. Russia’s actions had also undermined progress towards “a strategic partnership with the Russian Federation over the last decades”, it said.
At the same time, the parliamentarians called on Ukraine to speed up implementation of promised reforms. “Only a democratic Ukraine with stable, efficient and accountable institutions, a pluralistic political environment and free media, following through at last on the promises of the Euromaidan to reform a corrupt and oligarchic system, will be a strong and prosperous Ukraine, capable of stopping external aggression and restoring peace,” they said.

Tina Khidasheli demands Government to send protest note to Ukraine

Published in Politics
Friday, 07 October 2016 17:08

“This is a case when the liability issue should have been raised” – the Former Defense Minister and one of the leaders of Republicans Party Tina Khidasheli said. She estimated video connections of Mikheil Saakashvili in pre-election period.
As Khidasheli said, the government also has not answered the question, why it does not send protest note to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.
“When I was a Minister, Mikhiel Saakashvili had an interview with BBC and he politically attacked to Georgian State. I demanded to send protest note to Ukraine. We have had a lot of similar cases since then,”-Tina Khidasheli said. 

EU to discuss prolongation of anti-Russian sanctions

Published in World
Thursday, 29 September 2016 16:02

The European Union is planning to discuss in December the issue of prolonging sanctions against Russia in connection with Moscow’s aggression against Ukraine, President of the European Council Donald Tusk said during the talks with Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Groysman, an UNIAN correspondent reports.
Tusk said the EU would continue to discuss ways to ensure full implementation of the Minsk agreements, to be able to reach the actual cease-fire and peace. The president of the European Council added that his role in Europe was to explain to all that Ukraine was a victim of the situation. According to Tusk, Europe must continue to support Ukraine. Read also Poroshenko's office: Anti-Russia sanctions, EU visa-free travel for Ukraine not correlated He said he had suggested to his colleagues to discuss a common strategy in dealing with the situation in October. Tusk expressed hope that as early as this December, the European Council we will be able to continue its policy on the introduction and implementation of sanctions. As UNIAN reported earlier, the EU leaders will review the state of relations with Russia and the opportunity of their improval at the summit to be held October 20-21.

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