Ukraine gained independence from former Soviet Union in 1991, but concluded a cooperation agreement with Russia in 1993 in order to secure important oil shipments. Ukraine faces a stong separatist movement of the Tartars on the Krim island.
With the ratification of a new constitution in July 1996, President Leonid Kuchma won a long battle against the parliament during which he threatened to hold general elections. The new constitution provides for a constitutional court to oversee its application. The President has the right to pick the Prime Minister and the regional governors, but the parliament can veto his decisions. Presidential decrees will eventually be abolished. The President can no longer dissolve parliament. The new constitution also guarantees the much discussed right to private property. Public schools will teach minority languages and the Krim island will stay autonomous to the degree that it may draft its own constitution, albeit subject to confirmation by Ukraine's parliament. The conflict with Russia about the Black Sea fleet in Sebastopol will continue: the constitution forbids military bases for foreigners, but only lets Ukraine lease them.
Ukraine concluded the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with the EU in 1994.
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