2014-EO-Ukraine-Soares-Kanerva-Voridis-InterviewJoao Soares (left), Ilkka Kanerva (center) and Makis Voridis (right) are interviewed by NPR above Maidan Square at the conclusion of their pre-election visit to Kyiv on 28 March.Delegation underscores importance of democratic vote as response to historic challenges

KYIV, 28 March 2014 – A delegation of senior OSCE parliamentarians today completed a pre-election visit to Ukraine that featured discussions with Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov.

Joao Soares (MP, Portugal), who will serve as Special Co-ordinator of the OSCE short-term observer mission for the country's presidential vote in May, led the visit to Kyiv. He was joined by Makis Voridis (MP, Greece), who will head the OSCE PA election observation delegation, OSCE PA Vice-President Ilkka Kanerva (MP, Finland) and OSCE PA Secretary General Spencer Oliver.

The group also met with Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Andrii Olefirov; the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on State-Building and Local Self-Governance David Zhvania; representatives of the Central Election Commission; members of Ukraine's Delegation to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly; Head of the OSCE/ODIHR Long-Term Observation Mission to Ukraine Tana de Zulueta; Ambassador Madina Jarbussynova of the OSCE Project Co-ordinator's Office; and members of the public and the media.

The parliamentarians also attended briefings for ODIHR's long-term observers, who are deploying across Ukraine this week.

"Acting President Turchynov and others assured us that Ukraine will do its utmost to conduct a free and democratic electoral process during this time of historic external and internal challenges. We, in turn, stressed that a clean election would perhaps be the most powerful response the country could offer to the current crisis," said Soares.

Voridis said: "We've heard both concern and determination from Ukraine's officials and citizens. During this, our first pre-election visit, and in the ones to follow, we're sending the message that parliamentarians from across the OSCE area stand ready to assist and offer their feedback ahead of, during, and after the election."

OSCE parliamentarians plan to make several more pre-election visits to various regions of Ukraine ahead of the presidential election, co-ordinating their activities with the range of other OSCE initiatives under way in the country.

The OSCE monitoring mission for the 25 May vote is expected to be one of the largest in the organization's history.

For photos of the pre-election visit, click here.