On February 1 in a meeting with Parliament's delegation for relations with Ukraine, Ukrainian opposition leader and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said she will join forces with President Yushchenko's party Our Ukraine in the new parliament which will be formed after elections scheduled for 26 March. She categorically excluded any possible cooperation with the Party of Regions of pre-revolution presidential candidate Yanukovich, saying she hoped Yushchenko's party would do the same, European Parliament press office informed.

Ms Tymoshenko warned that much was at stake at the upcoming elections and that there was a realistic possibility that Mr Yanukovich's party could win, thus rolling back the achievements of the Orange Revolution. A key issue in her election campaign, Ms Tymoshenko said, was cleansing the administration of the clans which had survived the Orange Revolution and fighting corruption. One of the main reasons for disillusionment with the results of the Orange Revolution, she said, was that too many compromises had been made with the old "structures and clans". "The people do not only want material progress, but also justice and fairness", she said.

In reply to a question put by Janusz Onyszkiewicz (ALDE, PL), Ms Tymoshenko said that if she were to become Prime Minister after the elections, she would pursue the same foreign and economic policies as the present government does. Her main objective would also be "to join the European family", she said.

Ms Tymoshenko did, however, vehemently disagree with Mr Yushchenko's government on the gas deal that had been concluded with Russia, she replied to questions put by Charles Tannock (EPP-ED, UK) and Rebecca Harms (Greens/EFA, DE). The deal made Ukraine totally dependent on Russia and placed Ukraine's energy policy in the hands of the conglomerate RosUkrEnergo, which was set up by former president Kuchma. The previous day, Ukrainian foreign minister Boris Tarasyuk had told Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee that his government was trying to find out who was behind RosUkrEnergo. Ms Tymoshenko said she wanted the gas transportation grid to remain Ukrainian, adding that it should perhaps be privatised.

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