Introduction of Resolution Congratulating the Ukrainian People on the September 30, 2007, Parliamentary Elections

Introduction of Resolution Congratulating the Ukrainian People on the September 30, 2007, Parliamentary Elections

Hon.
Alcee Hastings
United States
House of Representatives
110th Congress Congress
First Session Session
Friday, October 05, 2007

Madam Speaker, as Chairman of the Helsinki Commission I rise to introduce a resolution congratulating the Ukrainian people for the holding of free, fair and transparent  parliamentary elections on September 30, 2007. These elections were held in a peaceful manner consistent with Ukraine's democratic values, and in keeping with that nation's commitments as a participating State of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. While there were some shortcomings, these elections stand in contrast to the vast majority of elections that have taken place in the countries of the former Soviet Union over the course of the last 15 years. Tone Tingsgaard, the Special Coordinator of the short-term election observers for the International Election Observation Mission (IEOM) and Vice President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, stated that these elections were conducted ``in a positive and professional manner.'' The OSCE-led IEOM's preliminary statement concluded that the elections confirmed an open and competitive environment for the conduct of the election process and that freedom of assembly and expression were respected. IEOM observers assessed the voting process as good or very good in 98 percent of the nearly 3,000 polling stations visited, notwithstanding some shortcomings, notably with respect to the quality of voter lists, and the vote count was assessed as good or very good in 94 percent of the IEOM reports.


These pre-term elections did not come about easily, coming on the heels of a political crisis that engulfed Ukraine's president, prime minister, and parliament for several months earlier this year. These 
political disputes were rooted in weak constitutional delineations of the powers of the president and prime minister. After weeks of tense standoff, however, agreement was reached on May 27 stipulating new parliamentary elections for September 30. Now that the elections have concluded, it is my hope that Ukraine's political leaders will form a government reflecting the will of the Ukrainian people as expressed by the results of the elections; a government that advances political stability and democratic development. It is my hope, too, that the new parliament and government will focus on the constitutional framework, especially the question of separation of powers, in order to avoid the 
political uncertainty that we witnessed earlier this year. Ukraine also needs to further undertake the hard work of strengthening the rule of law, including an independent judiciary, and fighting corruption. 
Madam Speaker, the conduct of these elections is a testament to the Ukrainian people's determined path towards the consolidation of democracy as Ukraine advances its integration with the Euro-Atlantic 
community. As such, Ukraine serves as a model for the post-Soviet countries, all too many of which have unfortunately retreated to heavy- handed authoritarianism.


This House can pride itself on having been a staunch supporter of freedom, human rights and democracy in Ukraine for many years--even before the restoration of Ukraine's independence in 1991. As this resolution underscores, it is important to continue our efforts to the further development of a democratic system in Ukraine based on the rule of law, a free market economy, and consolidation of Ukraine's security and sovereignty. I urge my colleagues to support this timely resolution.

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