The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a resolution praising the people of Ukraine, and the country's new president Viktor Yushchenko, for their transition to democracy.
Key Republican and Democratic lawmakers took to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday to praise Mr. Yushchenko and the Ukrainian people.
Congressman Henry Hyde is chairman of the House International Relations Committee.
"The outpouring of public opposition to the faulty election process was beyond expectation,” said Mr. Hyde. “The thousands of demonstrators who flooded into the [Ukrainian] capital to protest the election outcome and to demand honest democracy even in the face of personal hardship, were commendable. To their credit the people of Ukraine spoke with determination that the will of the people would not be thwarted."
California Democratic Congressman Tom Lantos says the determination of the Ukrainian people to not accept fraudulent results in November has given democracy a chance.
"The unwillingness of the Ukrainian people to accept a fraudulent and manipulated election, and ultimately their success in forcing new fair, free and open elections, should inspire people committed to democracy throughout the world," said Mr. Lantos.
Mr. Lantos said he hopes the results serve as an example for other former Soviet republics, such as Georgia, Belarus, and Moldova as well as what he called autocratic regimes scheduled to hold elections.
Others joined in expressing concern about what Mr. Lantos called the narrow window of opportunity President Yushchenko has to push through reforms that will strengthen democracy.
New Jersey Republican Chris Smith said while Ukraine is now on a path to becoming a thriving democracy, the world must do everything it can to help insure there are no setbacks.
"While listening to President Bush's inaugural address, I couldn't but help think of the recent events in Ukraine, as a powerful example of what he [Mr. Bush] called one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretentions of tyrants and reward the hopes of decent and tolerant people as that force of human freedom,” he explained. “We have seen this happen in Ukraine, and we must stand ready to offer our help and support and assistance to President Yushchenko and the Ukrainian people as they consolidate their free democracy future.
Benjamin Cardin is a Maryland Democrat and member of the Committee on Security and Cooperation in Europe which monitors democratic, human rights and other developments.
"There is a hard task ahead,” he said. “They [Ukrainians] have to overcome the dual legacy of corruption and disregard for the rule of the law. I know I speak for every member of this chamber that if Ukraine follows the path to democracy, and respect for human rights, as they showed in this past election, they will have this body, they will have this nation, on their side as they fight to develop a democratic system within their country.”
The House resolution, which was approved by voice vote, came as Ukraine's new president reached out to European and other countries for support in his efforts to maintain a democratic course for the country.