Second Ukrainian election contains massive fraud

  • 2004-12-01
  • By Jovier Solana
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for inviting me to address you on the latest developments in Ukraine. I will concentrate on three things in my remarks: 1) the current situation in Ukraine, 2) what Ukrainian legal procedures can be used and 3) the wider EU-Ukraine relationship.

The aftermath of the second round of the Ukrainian presidential elections has brought Ukraine to a cross-roads in her development towards establishing a fully fledged democratic society, and in the EU-Ukraine relationship. The situation is complex and very delicate.

The past months have seen the Ukrainian people engaging in the democratic process more deeply than ever before, despite a campaign period that did not provide for a level playing field for all candidates, especially as concerned equal access to the media. One could sense a widespread feeling of hope for a real democratic process.

A deep division is setting over Ukraine, one which runs between the mainly Russian -speaking east of the country and central and western Ukraine.

The international community, together with domestic Ukrainian obser-vers, mounted a large election observation effort. The OSCE-led observation mission - in which the European Parliament also gave its valuable contribution - released its preliminary findings on Nov. 22. Its verdict was clear: the second round of the Ukrainian presidential elections fell short of internationally accepted standards. Election observer reports talk about massive fraud.

In connection to the first round held on Oct. 31, the International Election Observation Mission led by the Organization for Security in Europe/Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, already drew attention to serious problems in the pre-election campaign, but gave election day itself a relatively clean bill of health.

With the second round, there are reported widespread cases of intimidation, ballot-stuffing and busing voters from one electoral district to another. A specific problem seems to have been the high use of mobile ballot boxes - normally meant for those who are physically not able to come themselves to a polling station; in some districts these voters are reported to have accounted for over 10 percent of the vote. It is difficult to believe the unnaturally high voter turnout in the Donetsk region. Voting day did not pass without incidents of violence. A police officer was killed at a polling station in the Central Ukraine. There are also reported cases of beatings of opposition observers.

President Putin of Russia, who endorsed Mr. Yanukovych's candidacy, has called the prime minister to congratulate him. Russian Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov, in Kiev as Mr. Putin's representative, also congratulated Yanukovych for a well deserved victory. The Russian leadership has since retracted its recognition of Mr. Yanukovych's victory and has called for a more balanced approach from all parties.

The Russian government has criticized the EU for inciting violence - a charge without foundation.

While the Russian Federation has openly supported one of the candidates, the EU's concerns are about the realization of democratic standards manifested by transparent procedures and legal recourse. Ukraine is an important partner for the union. But this partnership cannot develop without shared values of democracy.

The coming days and weeks will be crucial for both Ukraine's own development as well as the future of the EU - Ukraine relationship. Ukraine is a strategically important neighbor for the EU. At present, the contractual basis for the EU - Ukraine relationship is the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the union and Ukraine. From this basis, we have set out to build a closer partnership with Ukraine.

There is considerable potential in our relationship with Ukraine, and this potential needs to be realized. There is much for both the EU and Ukraine to gain from deeper trade and economic relations, increased people-to-people contacts and political partnership. But for closer integration we need common values. The quality of our relationship with Ukraine will depend on the quality of their democracy.

Jovier Solana is foreign policy envoy for the European Union. These are fragments of his address before the European Parliament's Committee for Foreign Relations on Nov. 24.