Ukrainian minister hopes resignation will speed up reforms

KIEV, Ukraine – The Ukrainian economy minister whose resignation plunged the country into yet another political crisis said on Friday he hopes it will help create momentum for economic reforms.

Aivaras Abromavicius resigned on Wednesday, saying he and his team could no longer drive forward the much-needed reforms because of resistance to their efforts from government officials.

Abromavicius, a former investment banker advocated deregulation and wide-scale privatization in Ukraine. He was appointed as 14 months ago along with a cadre of other political newcomers from the private sector including American-born finance minister Natalia Jaresko, which was viewed as an indication that the new government would go through with the long-overdue reforms.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Abromavicius said that he is glad his resignation has served as a “cold shower” for the political establishment and expressed hope that it could help to accelerate the pace of reforms.

“Everyone’s agreed it’s a great opportunity now when the cold shower was basically given to really demand some things from top political elites in order to accelerate the reform,” he said. “We are either two steps away from a break-through or we are two steps away from a break-down.”

The Lithuania-born minister said he would not withdraw his resignation, but would “take a pause and reflect on what has happened.”

Ten ambassadors, including those from the United States, Britain and Canada, expressed their disappointment at Abromavicius’ resignation in an open letter earlier this week.

Abromavicius is believed to be one of the strongest opponents of Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk, who has been accused of using his post to put lucrative industries under control of Ukrainian oligarchs. Although the outgoing minister did not name Yatsenyuk, he said the government should be led by Jaresko who has no shady ties with Ukrainian tycoons.