Vienna, 28 December 2004 - The Austrian Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ursula Plassnik, considers the course of the runoff election for the office of Ukrainian president - which the OSCE election observer mission reports to have been free and fair - as "a success for democracy". Plassnik said that "the insistence of the Ukrainian people and international efforts at mediation have paid off: The people in the Ukraine were given one more chance to express their democratic will without any restriction or distortion - and they seized that opportunity."
The election winner, Viktor Jushchenko, must be congratulated on his success, said Plassnik. Jushchenko is now facing a "challenge that may be even greater than that of the past weeks." The new Ukrainian president will have to pursue the course towards political and economic reforms with great determination. "However, he must now also gain the confidence of those who did not vote for him, and he must strive so that Ukrainian society will become a stronger community, in the interest of its future."
Plassnik emphasized that the election results are also a challenge for the European Union: "This was also a clear affirmation of our common European values and our European cooperation," the Federal Minister underlined. The Union and the Ukraine should now "as quickly as possible enforce the action plan" for further cooperation which, basically, has already been agreed upon. One of the plan’s goals is to implement a free-trade zone between the EU and the Ukraine.