BRAMA, Mar 9, 2005, 9:00 am ET
Helsinki Commission sends Hastert request for Joint Session of Congress address by Ukrainian President
The following letter to House Speaker Rep. Dennis Hastert was sent by Helsinki Commission Co-Chairman Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ) and Ranking Member Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD).
March 8, 2005
The Honorable Dennis Hastert
U.S. House of Representatives
H-232, The Capitol
Dear Mr. Speaker:
Having recently been in Ukraine, we respectfully request that President Victor Yushchenko be invited to address a Joint Session of Congress during his visit to the United States scheduled for early April.
When President Bush met with President Yushchenko at the NATO summit in Brussels, he commented on that "remarkable moment" to meet with a person "who had just led a revolution, a peaceful revolution, based upon the same values that we hold dear." President Yushchenko showed incredible personal courage, persistence and dignity as he led the struggle for democracy and freedom in Ukraine's Orange Revolution, despite the many attempts to keep him from achieving his vision for that country's democratic future.
In our meetings with a number of cabinet ministers, we were deeply impressed with their commitment to implement democratic and economic reforms. President Yushchenko and his government are showing a strong determination to confront corruption, improve respect for human rights and the rule of law, and facilitate Ukraine's integration with the Euro-Atlantic community. Congress has been supportive of Ukraine's efforts to develop as an independent, democratic, stable and prosperous country and this new leadership is positioned to realize these goals.
President Yushchenko's Orange Revolution has important implications beyond Ukraine, including for Russia, Belarus and other post-Soviet countries. Moreover, it has become an inspiration for people everywhere yearning for liberty and democracy. The Joint Session with President Yushchenko would send a strong signal of support not only for Ukraine, but for Congress' commitment to freedom and democracy everywhere.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.
Christopher H. Smith, M.C.
Benjamin L Cardin, M.C.