The International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) hosted Ukrainian Prime Minister Yuri Yekhanurov at an event during his first official visit to the United States since his appointment as Ukraine’s prime minister by President Viktor Yushchenko and confirmed by the Parliament in September.

During his remarks Prime Minster Yekhanurov thanked IRI and NDI for their work during the 2004 presidential elections.  “I would like to express my deep appreciation and gratitude to both IRI and NDI for their great and important assistance extended to Ukraine last year.”  Referencing his service as an elections official during last year’s elections the prime minister commented, “I know only too well the scope of that great assistance that was rendered by the two institutes.”

During his introduction of the prime minister, Lorne Craner, president of IRI, commented, “In their joint statement on April 4, 2005, Presidents Bush and Yushchenko applauded ‘Ukraine’s commitment to curb corruption, promote the rule of law and improve the business climate.  Progress on reforms will allow Ukraine to realize its aspirations to move closer to, and ultimately join European, Euro-Atlantic and international institutions.’  Ukraine’s Prime Minister Yuri Yekhanurov is well-qualified to spearhead Ukraine’s economic and political transformation.”

Prime Minister Yekhanurov has played a significant role in the economic development of Ukraine throughout his career.  As a member (deputy?) of parliament, Yekhanurov was a strong advocate in parliament of improving Ukraine’s business environment.  From late 1999 until 2001, he served as first deputy prime minister under then-Prime Minister Yushchenko.  Among other distinguished appointments, Yekhanurov has served as minister of economy and has headed the State Property Fund.

IRI has been active in Ukraine since 1991, when the Institute sponsored an election observer mission for Ukraine’s vote for independence.  In 1993, IRI began democracy-building programs that focused on political party building and parliamentary training at the national and local levels.  Over the past 12 years, IRI has trained thousands of Ukrainians.  IRI’s programs continued to evolve to include training for locally-elected officials, development of youth and women auxiliary movements within political parties and development of nongovernmental organizations.

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