WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Ukraine appears close to reaching a bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund because its new leaders have the "determination" needed to carry out the financial reforms the IMF is demanding, Poland's foreign minister said Wednesday.
Radek Sikorski spoke to The Associated Press after talking with Ukraine's new leaders on a one-day trip to Kiev and Odessa.
Kiev, which recently signed political association agreement with the European Union, is negotiating a major loan of up to $20 billion from the IMF under the condition that it reforms the country's inefficient, corruption-ridden economy.
"I am glad, because it seems that the deal between Ukraine and the IMF is close at hand," Sikorski said on a flight back to Warsaw.
Sikorski said it will require "political courage" to explain to Ukrainians — both lawmakers and the people — the true state of the country's dire finances.
"I see consequence and determination and I am counting on the historic role that Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk can play," Sikorski said. "I hope he will be able to explain to the people that an enormous challenge but also an enormous opportunity is linked to Ukraine's return to the cooperation with the IMF."
He said Ukraine "is potentially a rich country," in much better financial shape than Poland was when it embarked on its own political and economic reforms in 1989.
According to experts, Ukraine needs to free up its now-controlled gas prices, cut down on red tape, reduce its deficit and collect taxes more efficiently.