Church Hopes "New Dignity" Awaits Ukraine

According to Archbishop Jurkovic, Apostolic Nuncio

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KIEV, Ukraine, JAN. 24, 2005 ( Now that Viktor Yushchenko has been confirmed as Ukraine’s president, the Church hopes the country «will be reborn» with a new dignity and optimism, says the papal nuncio in Kiev.

The government also faces the challenge of a new form of dialogue, added Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, the nuncio.

The people of the former Soviet republic took to the streets in protest, calling for new elections after the second round Nov. 21. Official results had proclaimed the then prime minister, pro-Russian Victor Yanukovych, the winner, but Yushchenko’s supporters denounced what they regarded as widespread election fraud.

The country’s Supreme Court eventually annulled that election, and voting was repeated Dec. 26. Yushchenko won 51.9% of the vote, to Yanukovych’s 44.2%.

«Ukraine has gone through a period of great importance which will probably be judged better in a historical perspective,» said the nuncio, Archbishop Jurkovic, on Vatican Radio, on the eve of Yushchenko’s taking office as president.

In regard to expectations from the new president, the prelate specified that «a new period of life should begin in Ukraine.» This could lead to «dialogue in a new way above all with the Russian neighbor, which represents a most important historical factor, but also with the West and with the European Union, as main interlocutor.»

«What the Church hopes for is that the country will be reborn also with a new dignity, a new optimism,» added Archbishop Jurkovic.

On Sunday, Viktor Yushchenko took office. «The Ukrainian voters succeeded in having honest elections. … It is a great national victory,» he said after his inauguration, according to Agence France-Presse.

Addressing the deputies, he added: «We have only one objective: a prosperous and democratic Ukraine.» The new president invited all the political forces to act together for the good of the country, forgetting the division of the last months.

More than 300,000 people awaited the president in the capital’s Independence Square. Yushchenko promised to «destroy the system of corruption» of the country, and to defend «freedom of expression and the independence of the media.»

He added: «Our place is in the European Union.»

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