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Democratic Elections In Ukraine

Ukraine held elections on March 26th for parliament, regional councils, and local mayors. According to observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the vote was "free and fair" and demonstrated Ukraine's commitment to democratic reform.

One election observer, U.S. Congressman Alcee Hastings, characterized the Ukrainian campaign as competitive and dynamic, receiving comprehensive coverage in the media:

"(Overall) fundamental and political rights were respected. This enabled voters to make informed choices between distinct alternatives and to express their will in a free and fair manner."

With no group receiving a majority in Ukraine's parliament, it will be up to party leaders to form a governing coalition. President Viktor Yushchenko retains his position and authority to guide Ukraine's foreign policy. He has pledged that Ukraine will continue to pursue democratic and economic reform, and Euro-Atlantic integration.

The U.S. welcomes Ukraine’s success in demonstrating its commitment to democracy through this election. The U.S. respects Ukraine’s independence and sovereignty, and is doing its part to support Ukraine’s goals. This month, President George W. Bush signed into law a measure normalizing trade relations with Ukraine. The restrictions were originally put in place when Ukraine was part of the former Soviet Union. Since the end of the Cold War, said President Bush, Ukraine has become a friend of the United States:

"The growth of economic freedom and ownership in countries like Ukraine reinforces the habits of liberty and democracy and gives citizens a stake in the success of their nation."

In holding the first free and fair elections in their country’s history, the Ukrainian people have demonstrated that they are indeed committed to the ideals of economic freedom and democratic progress. The United States stands ready to work with whatever government is formed to help the Ukrainian people as they continue their political, economic, and other reforms.

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.