On 25 May the people of Ukraine, despite the extreme difficulties facing their country, voted in their millions, democratically and peacefully, for a new President.  I congratulate Ukrainians on this outcome.

In particular I commend people in Ukraine who remained undeterred by the violence, intimidation and threats of armed separatists, to cast their ballots. I recognise the determination of the electoral officials in Ukraine who carried out the election, under significant pressure; those who ensured the ballots were distributed and collected; those who ensured the elections were conducted freely and fairly.

The OSCE played an important role in verifying the fairness and transparency of this election.  Australian contributed AUD300,000 to the OSCE monitoring mission.  Australia’s Ambassador, Jean Dunn, visited polling stations in the area of the capital, Kyiv, to show support for the democratic process.

Pro-Russian separatists tried to prevent the election from proceeding, to deny other citizens the right to vote.  I condemn such actions and call on these groups to respect the will and the choice of the Ukrainian people.

Australia stands with the people of Ukraine who have shown, through this election, their commitment to democracy, political and economic stability, and to determining their own, Ukrainian, future.  Australia looks forward to working with the new Ukrainian Government.

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