Friday, February 04, 2005

President Bush mentioned Ukraine in his State of the Union address (thank you, Jerry, for the tip!):

The United States has no right, no desire, and no intention to impose our form of government on anyone else. That is one of the main differences between us and our enemies. They seek to impose and expand an empire of oppression, in which a tiny group of brutal, self-appointed rulers control every aspect of every life. Our aim is to build and preserve a community of free and independent nations, with governments that answer to their citizens, and reflect their own cultures. And because democracies respect their own people and their neighbors, the advance of freedom will lead to peace. (Applause.)

That advance has great momentum in our time -- shown by women voting in Afghanistan, and Palestinians choosing a new direction, and the people of Ukraine asserting their democratic rights and electing a president. We are witnessing landmark events in the history of liberty. And in the coming years, we will add to that story. (Applause.)

But Ukraine is in no way rival to Palestine, of course:

The beginnings of reform and democracy in the Palestinian territories are now showing the power of freedom to break old patterns of violence and failure. Tomorrow morning, Secretary of State Rice departs on a trip that will take her to Israel and the West Bank for meetings with Prime Minister Sharon and President Abbas. She will discuss with them how we and our friends can help the Palestinian people end terror and build the institutions of a peaceful, independent, democratic state. To promote this democracy, I will ask Congress for $350 million to support Palestinian political, economic, and security reforms. The goal of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace, is within reach -- and America will help them achieve that goal. (Applause.)

Having no terror to fight here in Ukraine, however, does not automatically mean we shouldn't be eligible for more U.S. money. Here's part of a recent letter to Bush, signed by 82 former Peace Corps Volunteers who served in Ukraine:

We recognize and fully appreciate the challenges facing the Administration and the U.S. Congress as it grapples with a major budget deficit. Nonetheless, we believe that increased funding for targeted programs that have been demonstrated to be particularly effective in helping Ukraine to make the transition from a former Soviet republic to a western democracy to be not only appropriate but absolutely essential.

As former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Steven Pifer recently observed: "The administration's aid request for Ukraine for fiscal 2005 is less than $80 million. That compares with $225 million per year in the late 1990s, when the opportunity to promote change was not as real as it is now."

Accordingly, we are offering the following recommendations.

Among the many Ukrainian citizens who were in the forefront of the effort to overturn the fraudulent election results of November 21 were hundreds who had studied in the United States during the past twelve years thanks to various educational exchange programs. Consequently funding that has been cut recently in such programs as Muskie, Freedom Support Act-Undergraduate, Junior Faculty Development Program, Fulbright, and Contemporary Issues among others should not only be restored but also be increased. These programs are one of the best ways to expose Ukrainian students and young professionals to American culture and civil society and to facilitate its transfer back to Ukraine.


With one of the fastest growing economies in Europe, coupled with a highly-educated population of nearly 48 million people and extensive natural resources, Ukraine offers great investment potential for not only small and middle-sized Ukrainian businesses but also American and other international investors. In fact, stock prices in Ukraine reportedly have risen 30% since November 21. Tapping that investment potential, though, will require the continuation and expansion of programs such as BISNIS and SABIT and other U.S. Department of Commerce programs that help train Ukrainian entrepreneurs, support the development of small and medium-sized enterprises, and facilitate U.S. investment in all sectors of the Ukrainian economy.

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