WASHINGTON – Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) and Co-Chairman Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), issued the following statement regarding Ukraine’s parliamentary elections that will be held on Sunday, September 30. A longstanding political dispute between President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich – rooted in weak constitutional delineations of their powers – resulted in a political crisis in April and May. After weeks of tense standoff, agreement was reached calling for early elections to be held on September 30.
“Since the 2004 Orange Revolution, Ukraine has continued to make real democratic gains. And yet, one cannot turn a blind eye to the serious political uncertainty that has unfolded within the past year. Prolonged instability is neither in Ukraine’s best interest nor in the interest of the region and it is our sincere hope that, following the elections, its political leaders can find solutions that will advance political stability and democratic development. The consolidation of democracy and the rule of law in Ukraine will further strengthen its independence and sovereignty, enhancing Ukraine’s aspirations for full integration with the West and serving as a positive model for other former Soviet countries. It is our hope that these elections are free, and transparent in keeping with Ukraine’s OSCE commitments. We wish the people of Ukraine much success and look forward to continuing to strengthen U.S.-Ukrainian bilateral relations,” said Hastings and Cardin.
In July, Congressman Hastings, Senator Cardin and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) led a Congressional delegation to Ukraine for the 16th Annual Session of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly. During the trip, the delegation met with Ukraine’s President Viktor Yushchenko and other prominent Ukrainian officials, where they received assurances that Ukraine would not backtrack on the path to political reform and good governance.
The U.S. Helsinki Commission plans to hold a briefing focusing on Ukraine’s September 30 parliamentary elections in October, details for the event to follow.