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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 November, 2004, 20:32 GMT
Text: Colin Powell statement

The US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, has urged the authorities in Ukraine, embroiled in a crisis over presidential elections, to ensure the result is democratic.

Here is the full text of his speech:

A dozen years ago Ukrainians chose freedom and independence, setting their country on a path of democracy and prosperity.

The United States has been a consistent partner with Ukraine in this journey.

Today, the United States stands with the people of Ukraine and their effort to ensure their democratic choice.

Indeed, this is a critical moment.

It is time for Ukrainian leaders to decide whether they are on the side of democracy or not, whether they respect the will of the people or not.

We cannot accept this result as legitimate because it does not meet international standards
Colin Powell, US Secretary of State

If the Ukrainian government does not act immediately and responsibly, there will be consequences for our relationship, for Ukraine's hopes for Euro-Atlantic integration, and for individuals responsible for perpetrating fraud.

Fraud and abuse

The Central Election Commission has just announced official results and declared the current prime minister the winner.

We cannot accept this result as legitimate because it does not meet international standards and because there has not been an investigation of the numerous and credible reports of fraud and abuse.

We have been following developments very closely and are deeply disturbed by the extensive and credible reports of fraud in the election.

We call for a full review of the conduct of the election and the tallying of election results.

Countries around the world are watching the actions of Ukrainian leaders
Colin Powell

During the election campaign, the Ukrainian authorities at the highest level repeatedly sent the message about the importance of free and fair elections.

We deeply regret that they did not take the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to democracy and to be a model for the region and the world.

Seize the moment

It is still not too late for Ukrainian authorities to find a solution that respects the will of the Ukrainian people.

Countries around the world are watching the actions of Ukrainian leaders.

We urge them to seize the moment.

Both Mr Yushchenko and Mr Yanukovych have suggested today that there may be a way to resolve this.

Hopefully, this will give us an opening to find a solution.

I have spoken this morning with President Kuchma to press him to take advantage of these kinds of openings and also to caution him against the use of any kind of force against the demonstrators, and also encouraged him to use the legitimate means available to him to examine these election results and these allegations of fraud and abuse.

Common goal

Also this morning I have spoken with EU Commission Chairman Barroso and with High Representative Javier Solana about the situation in Ukraine, and I can assure you that we share a common goal and perspective of the situation.

We have also been in touch with the Polish government and support the offer of President Kwasniewski to mediate.

I've also spoken this morning to Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov about the situation.

I underscored our strong support for a fair investigation of the election, and the absolute importance that no violence is used against the Ukrainian people.

Tomorrow is the EU-Russian summit in Europe, and I'm confident this will be a subject of discussion between the EU leadership and the Russians.

We call on all sides to work to achieve a fair and just outcome without the use of force.

We remind the Ukrainian authorities that they bear a special responsibility not to use or incite violence.

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