OpinionMeister

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Ukraine President Wants Honest Business

The Associated Press has an article covering the visit of Ukrainian President, Viktor Yushchenko, to the US. Link. The article primarily concerned President Bush's qualified endorsement of Ukraine's move toward NATO membership, but I also found interesting his address to the Chamber of Commerce.
Yushchenko later spoke to the largest U.S. business lobbying group, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and sought to assure business leaders that Ukraine is trying to fight corruption and attract investments.

"I would like to clearly state that the rules of the game (have) changed in Ukraine, that the law is working in Ukraine," he said through an interpreter. "From now on the Ukrainian state, the Ukrainian government are going to protect your interest."

He asked business leaders "please, do not give any bribes in Ukraine to anybody," saying he hoped that by cutting bribes from their budgets, they would save enough money to become more profitable.

Yushchenko is on a three-day trip to the United States to lobby for aid and investment, win Washington's support for joining NATO, and greet Ukrainian-Americans. He will address Congress later in the week.

We have seen an unprecedented spread of political democracy in recent decades, since President Reagan got the ball rolling, but the move toward free and transparent economies, while advancing, is less of a stampede.

Many foreign leaders have said they want to wipe out corruption. That is easy, and not necessarily meaningful. However, it is far more concrete and believable when one tells western businessmen not to pay bribes to officials in his country. If Yushchenko is willing to put it in terms like that, I am willing to believe him.

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