Ukraine’s newly sworn-in President Viktor Yushchenko starts his first day in the job today with a visit to Moscow and a meeting with Vladimir Putin. What he has made clear, however, to those who supported his so-called Orange Revolution, is that he is committed to finding a place for his nation in the European Union. After his trip to Moscow, Yushchenko will embark on a tour of western and central Europe.
“Our way to the future is the way of a united Europe,” he said after his swearing-in yesterday. “We, along with the people of Europe, belong to one civilization. We share the same values. My dream is Ukraine in a united Europe.” The inauguration was attended by US Secretary of State Colin Powell, seven presidents of ex-communist states and relatively minor dignitaries from Moscow.Yushchenko is reported to have told Powell that he was happy to have lived long enough to see a Ukrainian president elected not in Moscow or Washington, but in Ukraine. It is still unclear whether Yushchenko ally Yulia Timoshenko is in line for the job of Prime Minister – the Russian news agency has reported that the vice-speaker of parliament, Aleksander Zinchenko, might be nominated. Yushchenko, who won the presidency after claims that an earlier vote was rigged, is promising a fight on corruption and a drive to build up a strong and transparent economy. His programme this week includes visits to the Council of Europe, the European parliament, the World Economic Forum in Switzerland and commemorations in Poland of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz.