Ukraine's second president (1994-2005) Leonid Kuchma
Yalta - Ukraine's second president (1994-2005) Leonid Kuchma believes that high prices on the Russian natural gas have given a tremendous impetus to the Ukrainian industry.
"I believe that the high gas prices have given a tremendous impetus to our industry. We are gradually making our business stop consuming free gas, and think of high technologies and modernization of our enterprises," he said on Saturday during the 9th Yalta Annual Meeting organized by Yalta European Strategy (YES) in partnership with the Victor Pinchuk Foundation.
According to him, each enterprise should have a modernization plan agreed with the government.
In turn, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov retorted: "On the one hand it is true, but on the other hand it's not so simple. Those extra $5 billion that we are paying could be spent on economic development and infrastructure projects."
Describing Russia's policy towards Ukraine, the premier said: "On the one hand, we hear the assurance that our relations should be based on equality, good neighborliness, that we need to develop a lot of integration projects, and we are all for it. We are firm supporters of such policy. On the other hand, we have been stifled by the high price of gas for two and a half years," he added.
Kuchma retorted: "We need to stop going to Russia with a hat in our hand. We have managed to survive for two years and not to die."