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World: Sampling Of Reaction To U.S. Vote Shows Cautious Optimism

In opinion polls before the 2 November vote in the United States, citizens of countries from Canada to South Korea -- with the notable exceptions of Russia and Israel -- declared an overwhelming preference for Democratic Senator John Kerry to win the U.S. presidential election over Republican incumbent George W. Bush. But as the time neared for declaring an actual winner, international figures and people on the streets displayed a cautious optimism. RFE/RL collects a sampling of various opinions from Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and around the world.

Prague, 3 November 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Tajik parliamentarian Olim Salomzoda said that whoever won yesterday's U.S. vote is far less important to Tajikistan than whether U.S. policy in his region is consistent and respects democratic norms. Salomzoda spoke to RFE/RL in Dushanbe today.

"It is up to the American voters who to choose, but what is important to us is that [U.S.] foreign policy in our region, in Central Asia, should stay the same. But if changes occur, they should be proper to democratic processes. We want to have peace both in Afghanistan and Iraq," Salomzoda said.
The result of yesterday's U.S. presidential vote remained in limbo midday today over a balloting dispute in the state of Ohio. It wasn't clear when a winner would be named.

Kazakh parliamentarian Amalbeck Tshanov told RFE/RL in Astana that responsibility for U.S.-Kazakh relations depends primarily on the Kazakhs themselves, regardless of who presides over the U.S. government.

"How Kazakh-U.S. relations develop depends on us. If our so-called democratic reforms become really democratic, there will be positive changes. If our pseudo-democratic changes remain just cosmetic efforts, if a de facto single party continues to dominate, [the U.S. leadership] will have to alter its attitude [toward Kazakhstan] negatively," Tshanov said.

The result of yesterday's U.S. presidential vote remained in limbo midday today over a balloting dispute in the state of Ohio. It wasn't clear when a winner would be named.

In Moscow, Editor in Chief Fedor Lukyanov of the Russian quarterly journal, "Russia in Global Policy," said Russian leaders preferred Bush because they feared that a president from the U.S. Democratic Party would revive Cold War-style confrontation.

"Moscow is very concerned that if a Democratic administration comes to power, this could bring about a return, to a certain degree, to [former U.S. President Bill] Clinton's policies of the U.S. administration's active involvement in Russia's internal politics, and this is definitely not what Moscow wants now," Lukyanov said.

The chairman of the Armenian opposition National Accord Party, Artashes Geghamian, spoke to RFE/RL in Yerevan. "Winning the election, George W. Bush will pursue one real goal, and that is to ensure his name in the history books, in positive terms," Geghamian said. "So I think U.S. policy will become much more tolerant and cooperative than before."

In Georgia, Maya Nadiradze, majority leader in parliament, told RFE/RL: "After coming to power, [any] new administration will start establishing new relationships. That includes introducing a new policy toward our neighbor Russia, too. All the above will either slow or delay certain processes, even change directions."

In recent months, France has emerged as an expected source of dissatisfaction with the United States. Speaking to the Reuters news agency today, a man identified only as Xavier did not disappoint: "I think it is a pity for the world because it means the continuation of American hegemony. I think in Europe, in old Europe, everyone hoped that Kerry would win."

But in Kyrgyzstan, the deputy speaker of the Legislative Assembly, the lower house of parliament, Kubatbek Baibolov, was strongly supportive of Bush. "I think it will be better for us if Bush wins. First of all, his policies are known better. Secondly, if the U.S. continues its fight against terrorism at such a pace and in such a way, then we will also benefit from this policy," he told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service.

[For reaction from around the world to the U.S. presidential election, see RFE/RL's webpage "World Reacts To U.S. Election".]

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