BRUSSELS, Belgium -- NATO and the European Union’s new president joined US President Barack Obama in congratulating Viktor Yanukovich yesterday on his election in Ukraine, as the West looked to extend a hand to the Moscow- leaning leader.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown called the election "a vigorous display of democracy" and said Britain would continue to back Ukrainian aspirations to join the EU.NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen warmly welcomed Yanuk- ovich’s election – although his presidential challenger Yulia Tymoshenko has yet to concede defeat – a clear sign NATO wants to keep Ukraine’s allegiance."NATO is committed to deepening our strategic partnership with Ukraine, including by assisting, where possible, Ukraine’s reform efforts, and I personally look forward to working closely with President Yanukovich," Rasmussen said in a statement, which emphasised that the election had been free, fair and democratic.Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the EU council of ministers, offered Yanukovich his "whole- hearted" congratulations."The European Union and Ukraine enjoy close relations based on common values and strong mutual interests," Van Rompuy said."In recent years the relationship between the European Union and Ukraine has deepened significantly... I trust that under your leadership our relationship will continue to thrive."