Victor Yushchenko met with Ambassador Lubomir Kopaj, Head of the OSCE Election Observation Mission to Ukraine, President's press office reported.

They discussed this year’s election campaign and our country’s preparations for the March 26 vote.

The President said Ukraine appreciated the OSCE's actions made in our country and particularly thanked the mission for observing elections.

The Ambassador opined that the campaign was “quite peaceful.” He said all campaigners enjoyed equal rights to present their programs in the media. Mr.Kopaj added that the Central Election Commission functioned professionally, always holding their sessions openly.

However, Ambassador Kopaj is slightly worried that Ukraine has not managed yet to convene all election commissions but hopes the problem will be resolved. He added that he was “positively impressed” with the active work of the Public Council for Fair Elections which involves NGOs in monitoring the campaign.

The President said the Council was going to publish its first report soon. Yushchenko reminded those present he had recently met with Ukrainian governors and Yaroslav Davydovych, Head of the Central Election Commission, to “make them aware of their responsibility to prepare and conduct the election locally.” The Head of State said the most difficult issues were now solved and reiterated that this would be Ukraine’s first democratic and transparent vote.

Mr. Kopaj said fifty-two long-term observers and sixteen OSCE experts were currently working in Ukraine. He added that they expected a group of short-term observers to arrive on March 26. The ambassador believes therewill be enough people to properly and objectively monitor the vote.

“We work impartially. Our goal is to present a fair and objective picture of any election,” he said.

Mr. Kopaj remarked that the mission “produces recommendations, which will be given after the vote” and said their 2004 recommendations had been passed as Ukrainian legislations. Then the diplomat said he hoped the March 26 vote would help Ukraine strengthen democracy.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk, Foreign Policy Department Head Kostyantyn Tymoshenko and CEC Head Yaroslav Davydovych attended the meeting.


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