BERLIN, Germany -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said the former Soviet republic needs to tackle corruption that’s “ransacking” the state’s budget in order to lure investors and forge ties with the European Union.
The Ukrainian parliament will begin passing laws reforming the court system next month as a way to rebuild trust among international investors, Yanukovych said in a speech today in Berlin.
“Today we confront the terrible cases of corruption and the ransacking of the budget,” Yanukovych said. “The country cannot go on like this.”
During a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Yanukovych said Ukraine would be a “trustworthy partner” for the west, citing disputes with Russia over natural gas that have disrupted deliveries to Europe twice since early in 2006.
Merkel took aim at Ukraine’s press freedoms, saying that “we still have questions” on the issue.
Yanukovych’s seven-month-old government has bolstered relations with Russia and scrapped policies of his Western- oriented predecessor, Viktor Yushchenko. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in April cut Ukraine’s gas price by about 30 percent, while the Ukrainian government agreed to extend Russia’s lease on a naval port in the Black Sea.
Merkel said she supported an association treaty between the EU and Ukraine, which ships about 80 percent of Russia’s gas exports to Europe.
“We are obligated to find a solution that can really exclude any future instability as far as gas delivery is concerned,” Yanukovych said after meeting with Merkel.