Major democratic challenges in Ukraine

“The election of a new parliament in Ukraine was largely in line with international standards, but the country still faces major democratic challenges,” Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide commented.

 

Parliamentary elections were held in Ukraine on 28 October. According to the international election observation mission, election day itself was calm and peaceful overall and votes were largely cast and counted in accordance with international standards for democratic elections.  

“It is encouraging that on the whole the election adhered to international standards. However, I note that the election observers report a number of serious concerns with regard to the lack of balanced media coverage, the selection of candidates for election commissions and the misuse of administrative resources in the election campaign,” said Mr Eide.  

A large election observation mission, led by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and its Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), was deployed to Ukraine. Seven Norwegian election observers (two long-term observers and five short-term observers) have been working in the country. Norway has also funded the participation of around 40 international civil society observers. 

“It is particularly regrettable that the two leading opposition politicians Yulia Tymoshenko and Yuri Lutsenko are serving prison sentences and were unable to take part in the election. Together with its international partners, Norway has criticised Ukraine for what appears to be the use of selective justice in these cases. We urge Ukraine to implement judicial reforms and comply with the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights,” Mr Eide said. 

Norway is providing substantial funding for democracy and human rights projects with a view to supporting democratic development in Ukraine, and is one of the main contributors to the Council of Europe’s action plan for Ukraine. Together with Canada, Norway has supported the OSCE’s training programme for the many thousands of Ukrainians who have been involved in organising the election. Norway has also helped to provide courses for several dozen local journalists.

 

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