I wrote a couple of blogs last week anticipating the Ukrainian presidential election.  The first, Ukrainian election: best and worst outcomes noted that the best possible outcome of the election would be that: "the elections are recognised by the OSCE/ODIHR observer mission as being to a good standard; both sides accept the outcome; and the winner takes over as president.  Countries around the world congratulate Ukraine on another exemplary election and transfer of power, consolidating Ukraine's democratic credentials and strengthening the case for intensifying relations with the EU."   I suggested that this was "the likeliest course of events".   I also noted various other outcomes, including - by way of the worst possible result - rumours going round that one side or the other planned to incite violence on the streets of Kyiv in the event that things didn't go the way they hoped.

Later last week, in More good news about electoral fraud I noted that despite rumours of inevitable massive fraud in last Sunday's presidential elections, some experts were saying that there was fair chance of good quality elections on 7 February.  I hoped this would turn out to be true.

So how have we done?  There's a lot of good news.  There's been no hint of street violence (though I'd still prefer not to see one party or the other positioning groups of stout supporters at strategic points around the city).  The OSCE/ODIHR mission issued a statement on 8 February saying that the electoral process met most OSCE and Council of Europe commitments.  Leaders of the mission deploying phrases like "an impressive display of democratic elections" and "a well-administered and truly competitive election offering voters a clear choice".  And congratulations have been rolling in, including from British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, reported in my blog earlier today.

None of this means that Ukrainian democracy is perfect, or that there aren't struggles ahead.  One party has said it will be challenging some of the election results.  Difficult negotiations have started in the Rada (parliament) to determine whether there will be a realignment of parliamentary forces, or whether new parliamentary elections will be needed, possibly in May.  And when the shape of the government becomes clear, Ukraine will face a host of challenges ranging from taking forward negotiations with the IMF, through the need for deep-seated economic reform, to the need to tackle corruption.  None of this will be easy.  But whatever happens next, it's worth bearing in mind that the good conduct of the elections has raised Ukraine's standing in the world as a democratic leader in the region.  That in turn enhances Ukraine's claim to move ahead on closer integration with the EU.   Ukraine's integration with the EU, starting with the Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Ukraine is one of the best ways to help economic reform in Ukraine.  As Gordon Brown said, "the UK has long supported Ukraine's EU aspirations and we will continue to do so.  A broader EU is a stronger EU".  Absolutely right.  The UK believes Ukraine is a European country and should have the right to join the EU when it has met the necessary conditions.  Let's get on with it.

Leigh Turner
British Ambassador to Ukraine

NOTE:  You can read all of Ambassador Turner's blogs by visiting:

Ukrayinska Dumka


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