Ukraine`s Viktor Yanukovych was sworn in as president here on Thursday, vowing to lift the country out of economic crisis by continuing political and economic reform, according to Xinhua.
However, refusal by major political rivals including former President and current Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, to attend his inauguration herald a tough course for his endeavor.
URGENT POLITICAL AGENDA
In his inauguration speech, the president said his priority would be to reform the country`s power system and improve the government`s efficiency. He called for concerted action and effective cooperation among the president, government and parliament to create a favorable political environment for economic growth.
He also vowed to push the amendment of constitution, reform judicial system, and eradicate corruption and poverty.
Analysts noted that Yanukovych has to reach compromise with Tymoshenko, who slammed the election as fraudulent and refused to recognize Yanukovych as president.
With more than one third of parliamentary seats, Tymoshenko`s BYuT bloc is a major political force that Yanukovych cannot afford to ignore. The Yanukovych camp is now busy negotiating with the opportunistic deputies in parliament to enlist their support. If he fails to form a majority in parliament, Yanukovych may be forced to call an early parliamentary election, making the country`s political future more unpredictable.
HEAVY ECONOMIC TASK
Ukraine`s economy was hard hit by the global downturn which hurt its major exports of steel and chemicals, and halved the hryvnia`s value to the dollar over the past 18 months. In 2009, Ukraine`s GDP dropped 14 percent while national debt increased 59 percent. To appease people`s resentment, Yanukovych needs to act quickly.
The 59-year-old Yanukovych said in his speech that the country faced "colossal debts," poverty, corruption and economic collapse.
"Ukraine needs a strategy of innovative movement forward and such a strategy has been worked out by our team," he said.
He vowed to take economic reforms to save the struggling economy, and expressed confidence of leading the country out of the mire. He also pledged to stabilize the country as Ukraine can receive the badly-needed 16.4 billion-dollar fund from the International Monetary Fund which had been suspended since late last year due to the nation`s political instability.
PRAGMATIC FOREIGN POLICY
Most analysts believe Yanukovych would continue the all-round diplomacy carried out by former President Leonid Kuchma. Yanukovych`s return to power is seen as a sign that Ukraine will mend its traditional close ties with with Russia that were gravely strained in pro-Western Yuschenko`s era. However, Yanukovych is expected to strike a delicate balance while trying to develop friendly partnership with the United States and the European Union. But it seems unlikely that he will push as hard as Tymoshenko for the country`s NATO membership.
Yanukovych reiterated that Ukraine is a European nation which is not to be member of any military groups, a gesture supposedly meant to woo Russia. Meanwhile, he emphasized that he saw Ukraine as a "bridge between East and West, an integral part of Europe and of the former Soviet Union at the same time ... a European non-aligned state".
Yanukovych is reportedly to pay his first overseas visit as president to the EU headquarters in Brussels on March 1, and then to Moscow on March 5, a clear indication of his all-around diplomacy.