Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Mr. Yushchenko comes to Washington on a mission to spread democracy

By Aussiegirl

Today's Washington times features an analysis of the President of Ukraine as a man in a hurry

. . . In less than three months in office he has made clear he is determined to use his prestige, power and influence not merely to strengthen Ukraine's ties to the West and seek to establish its energy independence from Russia. He has also been working flat out to spread democratic values and regimes in the other former Soviet republics.

Yushchenko has made clear he wants to revive and transform GUAAM -- the Georgia-Ukraine-Uzbekistan-Azerbiajan-Moldova -- grouping of five former Soviet republics. And from the moment he entered office, he went out of his way to create and publicly demonstrate his especially close relations with President Mikhail Saakashvili of Georgia.

Saakashvili was the first foreign leader Yushchenko invited to Kiev to celebrate his accession to power. And in late March, he was there again on a state visit to discuss energy and transportation projects. The Georgian president even brought along most of the members of his Cabinet to discuss such issues as energy and transportation cooperation.

. . . Last month's Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan also reflected Yushchenko's determination to spread Ukrainian and democratic influence even into remote Central Asia.

As it unfolded, Yushchenko visited neighboring Turkmenistan and infuriated his autocratic host, President Saparmurat Niyazov, by publicly calling for the implementation of democratic values in the region during their joint press conference in the Turkmen capital Ashgabat on March 23.

"Democracy, freedom or liberty are not just empty words for me and my partners in the Ukrainian government coalition," Yushchenko said. "We will defend the values in which we believe and for which we have struggled. I want to be honest with my children and my nation. Maybe what counts most is not just that some problems exist. What really matters is that there should be a will to overcome them, and Ukraine has such a will."

. . . Ukraine is even spreading its democratizing influence into energy-rich Azerbaijan on the border of Iran. Interfax news agency reported Feb. 7 the Ukrainian Pora youth organization is trying to help the political opposition in Azerbaijan that is challenging veteran President Gaidar Aliev in the coming parliamentary elections there. The Pola organization campaigned for Yushchenko during the long and disputed election campaign in Ukraine that led to the Orange Revolution.


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