New Ukraine Leader Set For EU Parliament Visit

KIEV, Ukraine -- Viktor Yanukovych, the opposition leader who won Ukraine's recent election, will visit the EU parliament next week, it has been revealed.

EU parliament's president Jerzy Buzek

Yanukovych, who was inaugurated as the country's new president on Thursday, will hold meetings with parliament's president Jerzy Buzek and appear at a news conference on Monday.

He accepted an invitation from Buzek who was in Kiev for his inauguration.

The fact that the pro-Russian leader has chosen Brussels, rather than Moscow for his first overseas visit will be seen as symbolically important.

A parliament source said, "It's a feather in the cap for parliament and the EU."

His electoral opponent, prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, says Yanukovych won through fraud and refuses to recognise his victory.

Both Tymoshenko and the outgoing president, Viktor Yushchenko, did not attend the ceremony.

International observers have said the February poll was conducted fairly.

Yanukovych beat Tymoshenko in the run-off by 3.5 per cent. He won the support of only about a third of Ukraine's 37 million eligible voters.

He is the first Ukrainian president to have been backed by fewer than 50 per cent of those who voted.

Meanwhile, a resolution adopted by parliament on Thursday calls for closer ties with Ukraine.

The EPP motion said the EU "must respond with clear signals welcoming" Ukraine's EU aspirations.

Inese Vaidere, the MEP who observed the election, said, "It is important the president manages to bring together the country's leading political forces."

Source: The Parliament