On September 17, President of Ukraine Victor Yushchenko visited Odesa. President newly appointed Chief of Staff, Viktor Baloha, and Culture Minister Ihor Likhovy accompanied him.

He is expected to meet with the Odesa governor, visit one of the local cathedrals, attend a festival of national cultures and watch an opera in Izmail.

Victor Yushchenko has opened a festival of national cultures, the president press office informed.

In his speech, the President said such events were immensely important. “I appreciate this initiative of sending a signal to cultures of many nations inhabiting the region and telling each nation that lives in Ukraine that they will be worthily represented by their culture, art and right to vote,” he said.

President Yushchenko characterized the Odesa region as a “territory that has always hostedmany nationalities.”

“Today, we are participating in the event that tells us how to preserve national cultures and pass them on to posterity,” he said.

The Head of State is convinced the preservation of historical and cultural traditions is a big challenge for politicians. Following the opening ceremony, he watched a concert.

Involving amateurs from all over the region, the festival has been held in Bolgrad (Odesa region) since 2005.

Victor Yushchenko has also visited the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Cathedral. It was built in 1830 by architect M. Melnikov, who was a co-author of St. Isaac’s Cathedral in Saint Petersburg. Its walls are decorated with frescoes painted by Vasnetsov’s pupil, V. Peskaryov. The President said he considered the cathedral to be one of the most beautiful churches in Ukraine and gave it an old icon.

Victor Yushchenko has told reporters Odesa’s unique geographic location is a factor prompting the government to more actively use its transportation potential.

“So today, first of all, we will discuss ways to economically develop the Odesa region from the standpoint of the full use of its transportation capabilities and resources,” he said.

The President also said he would discuss plans to build a navigable canal from the Danube to the Black Sea when meeting with the Odesa governor. He added there were also several projects to develop the Odesa Sea Port.

The Odesa region can be involved in many projects, he said, calling onthe local government to be “more dynamic” to attract investors. Mr. Yushchenko said countless time-consuming bureaucratic procedures were the reasons to stop many promising projects in the region.

The Head of State then said he wanted “to reach clearer agreements on the fundamentals of the region’s policy in 2007 in economic, social and humanitarian areas” with the local officials.

He named the rapid spread of AIDS and the growing number of homeless people among the most pressing local problems.

“I hope the local government will be more effective in this area after our meeting,” he said.

The Head of State, however, commended the local government and the Odesa Council for building partnership, believing this cooperation will enable them to formulate effective development strategies for 2007.

“I want the local government to […] to listen to the community,” he said, adding that they should be partners. “In this, I see the basis we can use to create a new good potential of the region’s development.”

Victor Yushchenko has watched Zaporozhets za Dunayem (A Zaporizhzhya Cossack behind the Danube) by Semen Gulak-Artemovsky in Izmail (Odesa oblast).

The opera was staged near the fortress of Izmail on the Danube and co-performed by singers and musicians of the Odesa State Opera, the Vasylko Music and Drama Theatre and the National Opera of Ukraine.

Flowers from the President were given to them after the performance. Three thousand spectators enjoyed the performance.


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