Ukraine appoints three non-native ministers

Government hastily grants citizenship to Lithuanian, Georgian and American to enable them assume key cabinet positions.

The cabinet will be headed by Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who has served as prime minister since February [EPA]

Ukrainian parliament has approved the formation of a new government that includes three foreigners who had received Ukrainian nationality on the same day specially for the job.

Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s president, granted citizenship to Georgia-born Aleksandr Kvitashvili, US-national Natalie Jaresko and Lithuanian Aivaras Abromavicius on Tuesday, just hours before the vote.

“There are absolutely extraordinary challenges facing Ukraine – an extremely difficult economic situation, Russian aggression, the need for radical reform and the fight against corruption. All this requires innovative solutions in the government,” Poroshenko said in statement.

“These decisions mean searching for candidates for the new government not only in Ukraine but also abroad,” he said.

Kvitashvili was appointed as Ukraine’s health minister after serving for the same role in Georgia during 2008 and 2010.

Jaresko will serve as the country’s finance minister. She has worked in Ukraine for more than 20 years after holding various economic positions in the US State Department.

Meanwhile, Abromavicius will take on a role of economy minister. 

Ukraine has been offered billions of dollars in aid by international lenders if it implements a programme of economic reform and Poroshenko said the administration would benefit from international specialist input.

Challenges ahead

The cabinet will be headed by 40-year-old Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who has served as prime minister since February.

Five political blocs, including Yatsenyuk’s Popular Front party, last month formed a parliamentary coalition that has vowed to enact an agenda of radical economic and political reform.

“We are prepared for the most radical and toughest changes in this country. This mission will be completed,” Yatsenyuk said in a speech in parliament before the vote on the Cabinet.

Yatsenyuk said social assistance spending had been reduced by $300m this year and that the trend was set to continue.

Tasks to be completed by the incoming government before year’s end include bringing in laws to give more budget-raising powers to local authorities and reducing the number of taxes, Yatsenyuk said.

Source: AP, Reuters