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BRAMA News and Community Press

BRAMA, Jan 21, 2005, 9:00 am ET

Press release

78 former U.S. Peace Corps volunteers urge President Bush and Congress to aid democracy in Ukraine through increased federal support

Washington DC (Jan 18, 2005) — In a letter delivered today, 78 former U.S. Peace Corps volunteers, who earlier served in Ukraine, urged President Bush and Members of Congress to increase federal support for a cross-section of programs designed to reinforce that country's emerging democracy.

The signers wrote that "twelve years of American investment, both public and private, in a wide variety of programs to train and support Ukrainian students, teachers, government officials, business leaders, journalists, NGOs, and others ... contributed to the evolution of a strong and vibrant civil society in Ukraine that manifested itself recently in the successful demands by its citizens for free, fair, and transparent elections. ... [T]hese investments in democracy were not only wise but also effective; consequently, all Americans can take pride in Ukraines success."

However, they also noted that the administration's aid request for Ukraine for fiscal 2005 is less than $80 million compared with $225 million per year in the late 1990s. Accordingly, "it is essential that the United States back up its congratulatory statements [regarding Ukraine's] relatively free and peaceful presidential election with solid financial, programmatic and policy support."

Accordingly, "increased funding for targeted programs that have been demonstrated to be particularly effective in helping Ukraine to make the transition from a former Soviet republic to a western democracy [is] not only appropriate but absolutely essential."

The letter outlines a wide range of programs the signers believe should be supported and expanded. These include educational scholarship and exchange programs, professional and teacher training programs, media development programs and Voice of America broadcasts, trade and business development programs, environmental remediation programs, public health and social service programs, and the Peace Corps program.

The letter further recommends that "the United States should be prepared to strongly support Ukraines aspirations to secure market-economy status from the U.S. Department of Commerce, to end the Jackson-Vanik Amendment restrictions and confer permanent most-favored-nation trading status, and to join the World Trade Organization. Assuming it is the wish of Ukraines elected leadership, the United States should also assist Ukraine to further integrate into other major western institutions such as NATO and the European Union."

The full text of the letter and list of signers are provided below.


PLEASE SUPPORT DEMOCRACY IN UKRAINE
(a letter from 78 former U.S. Peace Corps volunteers who served in Ukraine)

January 18, 2005

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500

Members
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Members
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear President Bush, Senators, Representatives:

As former volunteers who served in Ukraine with the U.S. Peace Corps (RPCVs), we are writing to urge you to act now to actively support the historic and dramatic development of a true democracy in Ukraine.

Many factors have contributed to the evolution of a strong and vibrant civil society in Ukraine that manifested itself recently in the successful demands by its citizens for free, fair, and transparent elections. These include more than twelve years of American investment, both public and private, in a wide variety of programs to train and support Ukrainian students, teachers, government officials, business leaders, journalists, NGOs, and others.

Recent events confirm that these investments in democracy were not only wise but also effective. Consequently, all Americans can take pride in Ukraines success.

However, we realize that conducting a relatively free and peaceful presidential election is only the first step on Ukraines road towards a stable democracy. To cement and build upon the gains already made by Ukraines citizens, it is essential that the United States back up its congratulatory statements with solid financial, programmatic and policy support.

We recognize and fully appreciate the challenges facing the Administration and the U.S. Congress as it grapples with a major budget deficit.

Nonetheless, we believe that increased funding for targeted programs that have been demonstrated to be particularly effective in helping Ukraine to make the transition from a former Soviet republic to a western democracy to be not only appropriate but absolutely essential.

As former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Steven Pifer recently observed: "The administration's aid request for Ukraine for fiscal 2005 is less than $80 million. That compares with $225 million per year in the late 1990s, when the opportunity to promote change was not as real as it is now."

Accordingly, we are offering the following recommendations.

Among the many Ukrainian citizens who were in the forefront of the effort to overturn the fraudulent election results of November 21 were hundreds who had studied in the United States during the past twelve years thanks to various educational exchange programs. Consequently funding that has been cut recently in such programs as Muskie, Freedom Support Act-Undergraduate, Junior Faculty Development Program, Fulbright, and Contemporary Issues among others should not only be restored but also be increased. These programs are one of the best ways to expose Ukrainian students and young professionals to American culture and civil society and to facilitate its transfer back to Ukraine.

Other professional exchange and training programs, such as the Assistant to Member of Parliament and those directed at training local government officials in western-style principles of management, public administration, and democratic governance should likewise be expanded. In many ways, these officials will be the persons who ultimately will be responsible for translating Ukraines new-found democracy into action at the municipal and regional levels. Similarly, continued funding and technical support for non-governmental civic organizations is important for sustaining the growth of a nation-wide civil society. Other U.S.-sponsored activities such as the TEA program (US-Ukraine Awards for Excellence in Teaching) for secondary school English and American Studies teachers should likewise be maintained and enhanced.

One of the most exciting developments in recent weeks in Ukraine has been the dramatic demand by Ukrainian print and broadcast reporters to be allowed to report the news freely and fairly; the United States should aggressively support this. Consequently, funding for media development programs, including journalism training and exchange programs, should be expanded.

Similarly, financial support for the Voice of America broadcasts in Ukraine should be strengthened.

With one of the fastest growing economies in Europe, coupled with a highly-educated population of nearly 48 million people and extensive natural resources, Ukraine offers great investment potential for not only small and middle-sized Ukrainian businesses but also American and other international investors. In fact, stock prices in Ukraine reportedly have risen 30% since November 21. Tapping that investment potential, though, will require the continuation and expansion of programs such as BISNIS and SABIT and other U.S. Department of Commerce programs that help train Ukrainian entrepreneurs, support the development of small and medium-sized enterprises, and facilitate U.S. investment in all sectors of the Ukrainian economy.

More than 1,200 Americans have served as volunteers with the U.S. Peace Corps in Ukraine and have worked as English language, environmental, youth development, and business teachers and/or facilitators since 1992 with over 300 currently serving. This has perhaps been one of the best, lowest-cost, and non-political cross-cultural programs supported by the U.S. government.

Yet, funding restrictions have made it difficult for Peace Corps-Ukraine to operate at full capacity. The program should be fully funded.

Ukraine suffers from extensive air and water pollution, soil contamination by industrial and military wastes, the lingering effects of the 1986 Chernobyl accident, and myriad other environmental and related public health problems. Moreover, its economy is highly energy inefficient - using 10 or more times energy per unit of GNP than its European neighbors - making its economy not only less competitive but also more dependent on imports from the Russian Federation and Turkmenistan. Therefore, environmental remediation programs, including those targeted at Ukraine's industrialized eastern sector such as the recently launched U.S. EPA Methane Partnership, should be greatly expanded.

Similarly, Ukraine suffers one of the highest rates of HIV infection in Europe which threatens to undermine the ability of the nations inadequate public health infrastructure to cope. Other social problems, such as extensive human trafficking, also pose serious problems to Ukraines long-term stability. Accordingly, U.S. programs designed to address these concerns need to be sustained and strengthened.

Beyond providing financial assistance for the above-mentioned and related programs, the United States should be prepared to strongly support Ukraines aspirations to secure market-economy status from the U.S. Department of Commerce, to end the Jackson-Vanik Amendment restrictions and confer permanent most-favored-nation trading status, and to join the World Trade Organization. Assuming it is the wish of Ukraines elected leadership, the United States should also assist Ukraine to further integrate into other major western institutions such as NATO and the European Union.

We appreciate your consideration of these recommendations and we thank you for your past support for those programs that have helped Ukraine to develop its own democratic form of government and civil society.

Sincerely,

1.) Christie Appelhanz
RPCV-Ukraine: 2000-2001 (Group 20)
21014 W. 54th St.
Shawnee, KS 66218

2.) David Barrett
RPCV-Ukraine: 2001-2003 (Yaremche/Berdyansk)
Carrollton, Texas (Kharkov, Ukraine)

3.) Kelly Bedeian
RPCV-Ukraine: 1996-1998 (Group 6, TEFL)
Durant, Iowa

4.) Tania Beghini
RPCV-Ukraine: 1995-1997
Rochester, NY

5.) Kenneth M. Beishir
RPCV-Ukraine: 2000-2003 (Group 17 - Business; Poltava)
1303 Peden St.
Houston, TX 77002

6.) Cathey L. Bernhard
RPCV-Ukraine: 2001-2003

7.) Lori Bersabe
RPCV-Ukraine: 1998-2000 (Group 13)
Milpitas, CA

8.) Anthony Bolach
RPCV-Ukraine: 1999-2002 (Business Educator)
Manistee, Michigan 49660

9.) Ken Bossong
RPCV-Ukraine: 2000-2003 (Group 17 - Business; Lviv)
8606 Greenwood Avenue, #2
Takoma Park, MD 20912

10.) Donna Braden
RPCV-Ukraine: 1999-2001
Chicago, Illinois

11.) Suzanne Budak
RPCV-Ukraine: 1998-2001
Chicago IL 60640

12.) Leonilla E. Connors
RPCV-Ukraine: 1999-2001
600 Chestnut Street #407
San Francisco, CA 94133

13.) Dale Coventry
RPCV-Ukraine (Group 21)
2630 E. Bel Aire Dr.
Arlington Heights, IL 60004

14.) Jon K. Daigle
RPCV-Ukraine: 2001-2003 (Group 20 - Business; Khmelnitsky)

15.) Mark DeTray
RPCV-Ukraine: 2001 (Group 20)

16.) Teresa Devore
RPCV-Ukraine: 1998-2001 (Group 13, Novodniestrovsk)
Brooklyn, NY

17.) Worth Dixon
RPCV-Ukraine: (Group 22; Zaporozhye and Romny)
3903 Davis Place NW # 301
Washington, DC 20007

18.) Elaine Donnelly
RPCV-Ukraine: 1999-2001 (Uzhhorod)
1515 Massachusetts Avenue
Arlington, MA 02476

19.) Greg Dwyer
RPCV-Ukraine: 1996-1998
8010 Maple Avenue
Takoma Park, MD 20912

20.) Beth Eilers
RPCV-Ukraine: 1997-1999 (Group 8)
Black Hawk, SD

21.) Burke Eilers
RPCV-Ukraine: 1997-1999 (Group 8)
Black Hawk, SD

22.) Judith Enders
RPCV-Ukraine: 1998-2001 (Group 13)
308 14th Avenue East # 411
Seattle, WA 98112

23.) Luise Faber
RPCV-Ukraine: 1999-2001 (Group 14 - Business)
4725 E. Montecito
Tucson, AZ 85711

24.) Alissa E. Fiss
RPCV-Ukraine: 2000-2002 (Group 20)
Ft. Lauderdale, FL

25.) Charles Forbus
RPCV-Ukraine: 2002 - 2004 (Group 22 - Business Facilitator; Kiev)
1088 Elkins Lake
Huntsville, TX 77340

26.) Patricia Forbus
RPCV-Ukraine: 2002 - 2004 (Group 22 - Business Educator; Kiev)
1088 Elkins Lake
Huntsville, TX 77340

27.) Kelly (French) Fox
RPCV-Ukraine: 2001-2003 (Group 20 - Env. Ed.)
Providence, RI

28.) Michelle Welch Garren
RPCV-Ukraine (Group 6)

29.) Bruce Grogan
RPCV-Ukraine: 2001-2002
5505 Seminary Road, #815N
Falls Church, VA 22041

30.) Cameron Hall
RPCV-Ukraine: 2001-2002 (Group 20)
Salem, OR

31.) Bruce Jay Hansen
RPCV-Ukraine: 2001-2003
Philadelphia, PA

32.) Aaron Hoffman
RPCV-Ukraine: 2000-2002 (Group 18)
1808 Bellevue Ave #508
Seattle, WA 98122

33.) Lisa Houston
RPCV-Ukraine: 2000-2003 (Group 19)
347 Humphrey St., Apt.5
New Haven, CT 06511

34.) Thomas Hyde
RPCV-Ukraine: 1996-2000 (Group #6, Rivne)
2210 NE Holliday
Bend OR 97701-6011

35.) Vicki Ingersoll
RPCV-Ukraine: 2001-2003 (Business Development; Melitopol)
Indianapolis, Indiana

36.) Scott M. Jackson scottjacko@yahoo.com
RPCV-Ukraine: 2000-2002 (Group 17)
274 Clinton Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

37.) Lenta "Lynn" Jarrett
RPCV-Ukraine: 2001-2003 (Group 20 - Business; Lviv)
6263 Caminito Salado
San Diego, CA 92111

38.) Kristina Jeffers RPCV-Ukraine: 2000-2003 (Group 19; Uzhgorod) Somerville, MA

39.) Cheryl Jones RPCV-Ukraine: 1997-1999 (Group 8) Grand Rapids, Michigan

40.) Richard Krauze
RPCV-Ukraine: 2000-2002 (Group 17 - Business; Rivne)
St. Louis, MO


41.) Mary K. Lange
RPCV-Ukraine: 1998-2000 (Group 13) Avon Lake, Ohio


42.) Richard Lanum
RPCV-Ukraine: 2000-2002 (Group 18 - Environment) Columbus, Ohio


43.) David Larson
RPCV-Ukraine
3832 Calvert St, NW, 20007
Washington D.C.

44.) Sarah Lashley
RPCV-Ukraine: 2001-2003 (Group 20)
Ann Arbor, MI

45.) Winona Leone
RPCV-Ukraine: 1997-1998 (Zaporozhye)
Santa Rosa, CA 95409

46.) Judith Mandel
RPCV Ukraine: 2001-2003 (Group 20)
Los Angeles, CA

47.) Angela Matusik
RPCV-Ukraine: 2001-2003
Orlando, FL

48.) Carol McLaughlin
Ukraine-RPCV: 2001-2003 (Group 20 - Business; Crimea)
Grapevine, Texas 76051

49.) Ellen Michelson
RPCV-Ukraine: 2000-2002 (Group 19 - TEFL; Lviv)
Bloomington, Indiana

50.) Jane Mortenson
RPCV-Ukraine: 1997-1999 (Group 8)
Chicago, IL

51.) Steve Nurse
RPCV-Ukraine: 1997-1998 (Group 8)
Cloverdale, CA 95425

52.) Susan Nurse
RPCV-Ukraine: 1997-1998 (Group 8)
Cloverdale, CA 95425

53.) Dennis O'Donnell
RPCV-Ukraine: 1999-2001 (Group 14 - Business Facilitator; UNDP Sudak,A.R.Crimea )

54.) Rob Paullin
RPCV-Ukraine (Group 21)
Pekin, Illinois

55.) Anita Petroski
RPCV-Ukraine: 1999-2001 (Odessa)

56.) Stephanie Plageman
RPCV-Ukraine: 2001-2003

57.) Veronica Pollock
RPCV-Ukraine: 2001-2003 (Group 21)

58.) Kimberly Potter
RPCV-Ukraine (Group 16 - TEFL)
Gallup, New Mexico

59.) Edward Roach
RPCV-Ukraine: 1998-2000 (Group 13)
1705 Piper Lane #206
Centerville, Ohio 45440

60.) Tom Roodvoets
RPCV-Ukraine: 2000-2002
Grand Rapids. MI/Cairo, Egypt

61.) Manohar Sardeshpande
RPCV-Ukraine: 2000-2002
35529 Pheasant Ln.
Westland, Mish.48185

62.) Steven Boyd Saum
RPCV-Ukraine: 1994-1996
4615 Park Blvd
Oakland, CA 94602

63.) Diana Schmidt
RPCV-Ukraine: 2000-2001 (Group 17 - Business)
Laguna Beach, California.

64.) Hugo Schmidt
RPCV-Ukraine: 2000-2001 (Group 17 - Business)
Laguna Beach, California

65.) Elsa M. Shartsis
RPCV-Ukraine: 1999-2001 (Group 14 - Business; Lutsk)
12923 Lincoln Drive
Huntington Woods, MI 48070

66.) Jack Shartsis
RPCV-Ukraine: 1999-2001 (Group 14 - Business; Lutsk)
12923 Lincoln Drive
Huntington Woods, MI 48070

67.) Elizabeth Spears
RPCV-Ukraine: 1999-2001: (Group 16; Odessa)
788 Greenwood Ave. #11
Atlanta, GA 30306

68.) Kevin Spence
RPCV-Ukraine: 2001-2003 (Group 20)
3716 Amendment Ct.
Williamsburg, VA 23188

69.) Ryan Stahl
RPCV Ukraine: 2001-2003 (Group 21)
347 Humphrey St., Apt.5
New Haven, CT 06511

70.) Chandler Harrison Stevens
RPCV-Ukraine: 1999-2001 (Group 14 - Business; Kherson & Yalta)
Austin, Minnesota

71.) Sandra Tacina
RPCV-Ukraine: 2000-2002 (Group 17 - Business; Feodosia)
New York, New York 10023

72.) John M Theis
RPCV-Ukraine: 2000-2002 (Group 17 - Business; Kharkiv)
2404 Windward Blvd 208
Champaign, IL 61821

73.) Wendy Thompson
RPCV-Ukraine: 1997-1999 (Group 8)
Spotsylvania, VA

74.) William Varettoni
RPCV-Ukraine: 2000-2002 (Group 18 - Environment)
4903 Blackfoot Road
College Park, MD 20740

75.) Elizabeth Watson
RPCV-Ukraine: 1999-2001 (Pidvolochysk, Ternopil Oblast)
1240 49th Street
Sacramento, CA 95819

76.) Sarah Wilhelm
RPCV-Ukraine: 2001-2002 (Group 21)
Arlington, VA

77.) Jennifer Wilson
RPCV-Ukraine: 1998-2000 (Group 13)
Bakersfield, CA
(currently living in Almaty, Kazakhstan)

78.) Judy H. Wong
RPCV-Ukraine: 2004-2004 (Group 24 - Business Development)
5 Dow Court
Alameda, CA 94501


Please respond to:

Ken Bossong
8606 Greenwood Avenue, #2
Takoma Park, MD 20912
H: 301-588-4741
O: 202-293-2898, x.201
kbossong@hotmail.com
kbossong614@yahoo.com



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