(Washington) - The United States Senate and House of Representatives passed resolutions this week urging the Government of Ukraine to ensure a democratic, transparent, and fair election process leading up to the March 31, 2002, parliamentary elections.
The resolutions stress that Ukraine stands at a critical point in its development to a fully democratic society, and the March 31 parliamentary elections will play a significant role in demonstrating whether the nation continues to proceed on the path to democracy or experiences setbacks in its democratic development.
“Ukraine's success as an independent, democratic state is vital to the stability and security in Europe, and that country has, over the last decade, enjoyed a strong relationship with the United States,” said Helsinki Commission Chairman Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) who sponsored the measure in the United States Senate. “The Helsinki Commission has monitored closely the situation in Ukraine and has a long record of support for the aspirations of the Ukrainian people for human rights and democratic freedoms,” noted Campbell.
“It is important to underscore the reason for this congressional interest in Ukraine,” said Commission Co-Chairman Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ), an original cosponsor of the House version. “The clear and simple reason: an independent, democratic, and economically stable Ukraine is vital to the stability and security of Europe, and we want to encourage Ukraine in realizing its own often-stated goal of integration into Europe.”
“It is my hope that this resolution will send a clear message to the Government of Ukraine that the U.S. Congress will not simply rubber stamp funding requests for Ukraine without also considering the serious issues involved in Ukraine’s democratic development,” said Commissioner Rep. Louise McIntosh Slaughter (D-NY) who sponsored H.Res. 339 in the House.
The House and Senate resolutions also state that the Government of Ukraine can demonstrate its commitment to democracy by conducting a genuinely free and fair parliamentary election process, in which all candidates have access to news outlets. The resolutions note that in recent years, incidents of government corruption and harassment of the media have raised concerns about the commitment of the Government of Ukraine to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. The case of murdered journalist Heorhiy Gongadze is also addressed in the resolutions.
Helsinki Commission Members co-sponsoring the Senate resolution, S.Res. 205, include Senators Christopher J. Dodd (D-CT), Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY). Commissioners co-sponsoring the resolution in the House were Reps. Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD), Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) and Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL).
The United States Helsinki Commission, an independent federal agency, by law monitors and encourages progress in implementing provisions of the Helsinki Accords. The Commission, created in 1976, is composed of nine Senators, nine Representatives and one official each from the Departments of State, Defense and Commerce.