February 24, 2014 – New York – AJC welcomes the historic events in Ukraine, which have captured the world’s imagination and underscored the yearning for freedom and a new direction for the people of this country.
AJC Executive Director David Harris, who has visited Ukraine many times and been honored by the Western-oriented government of President Viktor Yushchenko, issued the following statement:
“We have taken a deep and abiding interest in Ukraine since it first sought to break away from the Soviet Union in 1991. Indeed, we are very proud that AJC was among the first voices calling on U.S. President George H.W. Bush to recognize the rebirth of Ukrainian sovereignty and independence. Since then, we have sought to foster vibrant U.S.-Ukrainian relations, including successfully calling on the United States Congress to ‘graduate’ Ukraine from the provisions of the Cold War-era Jackson-Vanik Amendment.
“In recent weeks, we have issued several statements expressing admiration for those Ukrainians who bravely chose to assert their right to peaceful assembly and protest in challenging the rule of President Viktor Yanukovich, who did a sudden about-face and pulled Ukraine out of an historic deal with the European Union, instead turning his gaze to Moscow. We also condemned the government’s use of deadly force in killing scores of dissenting Ukrainians. In the end, remarkably, the protesters prevailed, but we shall long remember those who gave their lives to help achieve this milestone outcome.
“We are fully aware that many challenges remain ahead for the people of Ukraine. They must now seek responsible new leadership to guide the country forward, keep the country geographically intact, ensure full democracy, transparency, and pluralism, overcome economic stagnation and endemic corruption, and steer the country’s foreign policy. And we count on the United States and European Union to seize the opportunity to offer help in stabilizing the situation, providing sustained assistance, and setting guidelines to help foster responsible political and economic stewardship. We also join with our government in urging the Russian Federation to respect the will of the Ukrainian people and build good-neighborly relations with Ukraine.
“For now, as the Ukrainian people rejoice at this dramatic turn of events, brought about by determined and courageous individuals who would not allow their wishes to be steamrolled by an out-of-touch leader, we rejoice with them.”