Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) participated in the international mission to monitor the presidential election in Ukraine.
– Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) participated in the international mission to monitor the presidential election in Ukraine. On Sunday, May 25, sixteen million Ukrainians voted in the election, widely seen as charting a new course for the country, independent from a Russian sphere of influence, and deepening its commitment to democracy and the rule of law.
“The U.S. is committed to Ukrainian independence and democracy,” Burgess said. “The overwhelming majority of the Ukrainian people have chosen this path, and in recent months they have shown themselves willing to pay the price. Yesterday they held a free and fair election – this was imperative for the country’s future. The Ukrainians’ determination and courage on the Maidan and in organizing this election in the face of Russian threats recalls the Polish Solidarity movement in the 1980s and the East Germans that brought down the Berlin Wall.”
Burgess participated in the monitoring mission organized by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which fielded over 100 observers. This monitoring mission was a joint effort with other European parliamentary bodies. The joint observation mission issued its preliminary findings at a press conference on Monday, May 26.
“This election proved the democratic spirit of the people of Ukraine, who had the opportunity to genuinely express their will at the ballot box, and seized it in high numbers,” João Soares, the Special Co-ordinator who led the short-term OSCE observer mission, said. “The electoral and security authorities of Ukraine should be commended for their efforts – under extraordinary circumstances – to facilitate an election that largely upheld democratic commitments.”
“We visited 17 polling stations in the Kyiv vicinity, checked voter lists, and looked for signs of ballot stuffing or intimidation,” Burgess said. “I didn’t see any irregularities and can concur with the OSCE’s findings. The general atmosphere was serious, and the turnout was high, and, as an American Congressman, I was very welcome at polling stations. The Ukrainians saw my presence as a sign of support for their country – and that was exactly what it was intended to be.”
On May 24, Rep. Burgess and other American officials met with the Ukrainian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, raising issues of potential U.S. energy exports to Ukraine and Ukraine’s efforts to re-unite families divided by the Russian occupation of Crimea. In recent months the new Ukrainian government has sought to establish a close relationship with the U.S. government.
“The Prime Minister has shown himself friendly to the United States – he explained how Russia has been a destabilizing force, and emotion was palpable in his voice as he described the situation on the ground in his country,” Burgess said. “I believe that we should support efforts to create a more independent and democratic Ukraine, free of corruption. It will be an important friend of the U.S., a country with which our government can cooperate on international security and with which our companies can do business.”
Burgess and the U.S. delegation had additional consultations with U.S. officials and civil society on issues of energy trade and security. Burgess led the U.S. House of Representatives delegation to the election, consisting of himself and Congressman Steve Stockman (TX-9). Other U.S. election monitors included Senators Ben Cardin (MD), Robert Portman (OH), Kelly Ayotte (NH), and Congressman Peter Roskam (IL-6).