In a five-hour conversation with Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, Victor Yushchenko has voiced his concern over several steps taken by the new government and said the cabinet must observe the National Unity Pact in its work, according to the President’s press-office.

      “I invited the prime minister to give him my first political warning about some things certain government executives do, violating the [National Unity] Pact and stabilization agreements. Our meeting resulted in a joint plan of correcting such tendencies,” he told reporters at a mass media briefing on Friday.

      He is convinced the National Unity Pact “gave all the political forces keys to implement these major political, economic and humanitarian tasks.” As President of Ukraine, he will thereby spare no effort to make sure that the key principles of this document – among them the unitary form of government, language policy and Euro-Atlantic integration – are secured not only as “common political agreements reached at the phase of finding political compromises and resolving the parliamentary crisis but also used as an action plan by the new Ukrainian government.”

      Mr. Yushchenko and Mr. Yanukovych spoke about some dangerous social and economic tendencies, nontransparent and often inexpedient dismissals and appointments, delays in the formation of a broad parliamentary coalition, violations of the rights of the opposition and attempts to revise Ukraine’s foreign policy.

      “Disregarding the law, the plan to raise the minimum wage on December 1, 2006, has been put off although the country has enough resources this year. This is a dubious and unnecessary revision of budget policy,” he said, adding that VAT reimbursement and tax pressure considerably complicated the dialogue between the government and businessmen.

      “The 2007 draft budget has no signs of tax reduction whatsoever,” he said, claiming such a move could have helped legalize the economy.

      The President also censured the Tax Administration for being apparently unfair in VAT reimbursement and said he had authorized Prosecutor General Medvedko to study the situation within ten days and “develop a mechanism of monitoring which would make it impossible to carry out such policies in the future.”

      Mr. Yushchenko also insisted that the formation of a parliamentary coalition should be faster.

      “The healthy part of Ukraine’s political forces must understand one thing: given the constitutional changes, which were passed hastily, political forces and government should take responsibility for many economic, humanitarian, and social issues,” he said. “I urge all those who take part in the formation of positions of this or that parliamentary faction to accelerate this process.”

      The President and the premier also spoke about the inexpedience of putting pressure on deputies. Mr. Yushchenko said the revival of the practice of forcing parliamentarians to join the majority perverted the March 26 poll results.

      “I would like to wish the deputies to be responsible for their voters and positions they defended during the campaign and to face all attacks bravely […],” he said. “I clearly demand that the rights of the opposition should be protected and observed so that they can control the government…”

      He characterized the prime minister’s attempt to revise Ukraine’s foreign policy as unacceptable and reiterated that the country’s course to join the European Union and NATO would not change.

      Mr. Yushchenko also said it was vital to pass bills based on the principles of the National Unity Pact and his anti-corruption laws.

      The President is soon going to convene the National Security and Defense Council to discuss all these issues.