Friday, April 08, 2005


Yushchenko visit receives scant coverage

Speaking before congress on Wednesday, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko thanked the U.S. for its support of the democratic process in the Ukraine, and asked not only for economic development aid, but for help in gaining access for his country to mainstream world society:

Yushchenko thanked the United States for backing his candidacy and the ouster of the pro-Russian government, saying the U.S. support was "clear and unambiguous. The U.S. condemned fraud and upheld Ukrainian's right to freely elect their government."

The Ukrainian president also sought U.S. lawmakers' support for his country's entrance into the European Union, the World Trade Organization and NATO, which he said would give his country new opportunities and help it continue on the path of democracy.

Yushchenko was elected after a tumultuous series of events which saw the incumbent pro-Russian government try to steal the election, only to be rebuffed by the Ukrainian equivalent of the Supreme Court amid massive street demonstrations.

At times, it seemed the electoral crisis in Ukraine might spill over into U.S.-Russian relations, as the U.S. openly preferred Yushchenko while Putin and the Kremlin backed Leonid Kuchma, his predecessor. And a still-pending investigation is pursuing a possible attempt to assassinate Yuschenko by means of dioxin poisoning.

In the course of his three-day visit to the U.S., Yushchenko received the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award, an annual honor given to public servants who have made courageous decisions of conscience without regard for the consequences.

In addressing congress, Yushchenko envisioned a new era in U.S.-Ukrainian relations, as well as the new role for the Ukraine in the international community for which he sought U.S. support:

"Our goal is to place Ukraine among prosperous democracies," Yushchenko said, speaking through an interpreter. Addressing a joint meeting of Congress, he said his three-day visit was meant to ring in a new era of relations between Ukraine and the United States.

"We do not seek only a thaw in the frosty relations of the past. We seek a new atmosphere of trust, frankness and partnership," Yushchenko said.

Apparently, here in the U.S., Yushchenko’s fifteen minutes of fame are used up. While the street demonstrations in the course of the Ukrainian election drama dominated the news at the time, his visit to this country and appearance before congress has gone all but unnoticed. Coverage by Newsmax is the basis of this post.

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