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Leigh Turner

Ambassador to Austria and UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Vienna

Part of UK in Ukraine

12th February 2010

Why the election strengthens Ukraine’s EU case

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.

1 comment on “Why the election strengthens Ukraine’s EU case

  1. We already walked up to the the same historical line, when changing of framework(as feudalism changed a capitalism etc.) of society is extremely needed.
    The century of getting rid passed itself, threadbare order growing into ” tolerant” disorder, that to understand it, it is necessary to look and estimate what be going on outside.
    All these revolutionary dissatisfactions and not ability of power to manage, – because before and т.д… The same moment, when bottoms already do not want to live on old, and tops yet can not manage on new…
    Conservatism of свойственен of any power, and people need progressive changes…
    Today’s, next is IMITATION – to solicitude and honesty, already arranges few, and contingent blindly – coming to heel doomed grows short, People develop and Country is under an obligation, even – not to fall behind. We are doomed to the changes…
    Humanity always will search the ideal form of rule, where ALL always ALL will arrange without every – or . – OR it will be just is the next stage unsuccessful
    – by the way, I am on what to change!
    Power now has swingeing majority – lazy, ruling dependants.
    All system of power does not fit not to the devil, in this whirlpool of the kissed drones – without replacement of all system, all conversations about some cardinal improvement and about reforms simply – POLITICAL БЛЕФ.
    и from simple народа:

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About Leigh Turner

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of…

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of the UN and other organisations; stories here will reflect that.

About me: I arrived in Vienna in August 2016 for my second posting in this wonderful city, having first served here in the mid-1980s. My previous job was as HM Consul-General and Director-General for Trade and Investment for Turkey, Central Asia and South Caucasus based in Istanbul.

Further back: I grew up in Nigeria, Exeter, Lesotho, Swaziland and Manchester before attending Cambridge University 1976-79. I worked in several government departments before joining the Foreign Office in 1983.

Keen to go to Africa and South America, I’ve had postings in Vienna (twice), Moscow, Bonn, Berlin, Kyiv and Istanbul, plus jobs in London ranging from the EU Budget to the British Overseas Territories.

2002-6 I was lucky enough to spend four years in Berlin running the house, looking after the children (born 1992 and 1994) and doing some writing and journalism.

To return to Vienna as ambassador is a privilege and a pleasure. I hope this blog reflects that.