The following year, however, unity collapsed due to political infighting.

 

After parliamentary elections in March, they failed to form a governing coalition, opening the way to power for political rival, Viktor Yanukovych, the prime minister.

 

Party priorities

 

While Yushchenko has made membership to the EU and Nato a priority for Ukraine, his pro-Western policies have faced growing resistance from Yanukovych, who returned as premier in August.

 

Andriy Shevchenko, an ally of Tymoshenko, said: "I think that we will be much more effective together."

 

Some politicians in Yushchenko's party have not supported the alliance in its entirety.

 

Pavlo Zhebrivsky, an Our Ukraine politician, said: "We are against the coalition's policy, but there are no grounds today for early polls."

 

Yushchenko received a great
deal of support in 2004 [AP]
Since Yanukovych became prime minister, he has suspended the president's goal of Nato membership and expressed interest in joining a Russian-led ex-Soviet trade bloc.

 

The prime minister also responded favourably to Moscow's proposals for joint ownership of Ukraine's gas transit pipeline network.

 

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German foreign minister - whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency – and Manuel Lobo Antunes, the European affairs minister of Portugal, are scheduled to meet Yushchenko and Yanukovych about EU accession.

 

The Orange Revolution

 

In 2004, Yushchenko was elected as the president in controversial elections accompanied by a series of protests and political events known as the Orange Revolution.

 

Tymoshenko was appointed as a prime minister while Yanukovych was thrown into opposition.

 

Ukraine's Socialist party switched from the 2004 Orange Coalition, which consisted of Yushchenko's Our Ukraine party and the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc, to the Anti-Crisis Coalition.

 

In June 2006, the government was formed by the Anti-Crisis Coalition after March elections, which consisted of three parties - the Party of Regions, the Communist party, and the Socialist party of Ukraine.

 

The new coalition nominated Yanukovych for the post of prime minister.