Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko and his Chicago-born wife have extended a hand to emigrants, asking them to return and offer "brotherly assistance" to their homeland.Fresh from a meeting with US President George W Bush where Yushchenko discussed Ukraine's hopes of joining the World Trade Organisation by the end of the year and NATO later, he said his ultimate aim was for the country to join the European Union.
Yushchenko will next visit Boston and address a joint session of the US Congress.
The Ukrainian president and his wife, Kateryna, received a warm welcome from Chicago's Ukrainian-American community.
"As before, we need your brotherly assistance," Yushchenko said in a speech to the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations that was attended by hundreds of local Ukrainians. "I call you (back) to Ukraine."
He thanked Chicago's 100,000-strong Ukrainian community for giving him a 99 percent majority in the second round of voting that helped him topple Russian-backed candidate Victor Yanukovych.
Support from US
Chicago's Ukrainians also raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to support "Orange Revolution" protesters, many of whom camped out in Kiev's main square to demand fair elections.
Yushchenko said since he won the presidency the rules were changing in Ukraine and promised those planning to return an "open and competitive market," free speech and a government free of corruption.
While tax rates on incomes, business profits and consumption have been cut, government revenues had risen, Yushchenko said, implying corruption by the previous government was to blame.
Though he was intent on expanding Ukraine's ties with Europe and the West, he said relations with Russia were important because 20 percent of Ukraine's exports go there.
"On the other hand, our strategic goal is integration in the European Union and with the North Atlantic alliance," Yushchenko said. "(EU membership) is equal to millions of jobs in the Ukraine."
To make it easier for Westerners to travel to Ukraine, the government had just recently relaxed visa requirements for Europeans and was working to do the same for Americans, he said.