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German Politicians Demand Closer Links to Ukraine

Hardy Graupner (ncy)December 27, 2004

Political leaders in Germany have voiced their satisfaction over the peaceful re-run of the presidential election in Ukraine.

Observers said the Ukrainian ballot was largely free and fairImage: AP

German electoral observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OCSE) confirmed Monday that the previous day's election was completed without any obvious irregularities.

"I still remember the extent of vote rigging some five weeks ago," Green party parliamentarian Winfried Nachtwei said. He spent Sunday as an electoral observer in the Ukrainian city of Odessa. He said that he hadn't seen or heard of any kind of irregularities.

"This time around, I myself and the OSCE colleagues I've talked with are convinced that the election was carried out in a fair manner. I've not come across any irregularities," Nachtwei said.

Though there had been criticism that the ballot boxes were transparent, Nachtwei didn't find it problematic. He said it made it possible to rule out that ballot slips were in the boxes even before the vote started. The secrecy of the vote was ensured since no one was watching as people cast their votes one by one, he said.

Intensify relations - now

Der siegessichere Oppositionsführer Viktor Juschtschenko, Wiederwahl in der Ukraine
Viktor YushchenkoImage: AP

Agreement has been widespread among German lawmakers that bilateral relations as well as relations between the European Union and Ukraine must now reach a higher level as soon as possible.

"The European Union is now called upon to put its promises into practice -- promises it has made in recent weeks," said opposition Christian Democratic foreign policy spokesman Wolfgang Schäuble on Monday.

"It needs to foster greater political and economic cooperation with Ukraine with a view to increasing stability in the country. The EU will have to put Ukraine back on its foreign policy agenda, he adds, and not ignore it the way it did before the presidential election and the peaceful uprising of the people."

His party comrade Friedbert Pflueger added that Ukraine should be given a clear European perspective by Brussels. Ukraine is a European country by any standards, he said, and it therefore deserved at least the same amount of attention by the European Union as Turkey, with which the bloc of 25 members has only just decided to start accession talks.

"Yushchenko knows what to do"

Social Democratic parliamentarian Gert Weisskirchen called the re-run of the election in Ukraine a victory for civil society there and applauded the Ukrainian people for their commitment to basic rights and for the courage and steadfastness they had displayed in recent weeks. He said he hoped Viktor Yushchenko, as the obvious winner of the election, would use his past experience to embark on a political course which would suit both the EU and Russia.

"As prime minister or head of the Ukrainian National Bank, Mr Yushchenko was well aware of his country's interests and defended them well," Weisskirchen said. "In so doing, he looked to the European Union and to Russia at the same time without having to embark on a collision course with either of the two. In other words, he'll continue to seek good relations both to Moscow and Brussels."

Weisskirchen also expressed the hope that the president-designate would have enough political clout to overcome the strong polarization in Ukrainian society and take his opponent Viktor Yanukovych's followers on-board on the road towards more political stability and economic development.