Yulia Tymoshenko, a leader of the Orange revolution, was narrowly elected prime minister on 18 December, an outcome the EU hopes will accelerate Ukraine`s drive to move closer to the West, according to EurActive.

      Tymoshenko won 226 votes - barely the majority needed in the 450-member Parliament - from deputies from her bloc and from President Viktor Yushchenko`s party.

 The opposition, led by the pro-Russian Party of Regions led by former prime minister Viktor Yanukovich, boycotted the vote.

      The vote puts puts Tymoshenko back in a post she first occupied in 2005 following the mass Orange Revolution protests that swept her and Yushchenko into power until the pair bitterly fell out with one another just months later.

      Before the vote on Tuesday, Tymoshenko vowed that the coalition would defend the country`s national interests and implement reforms. "You have real patriots in politics who will hold this flag up high and never drop it," she said. "Today`s vote is a moment of truth for the democratic coalition."

      Tymoshenko was the most energetic and vivid figure of the 2004 Orange Revolution protests that helped bringing Yushchenko to power.

      The opposition, dominated by the Party of Regions, is in a strong position to fight initiatives by the Western-leaning reformist coalition.

      Javier Solana, the EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, congratulated Tymoshenko on her confirmation as prime minister and stressed the importance of the new government focusing on reforms aimed at modernising the country. He affirmed that the EU stood at Ukraine`s side to help with their implementation and invited Tymoshenko to visit Brussels in the near future.

      Joseph Daul, Chairman of the EPP-ED group in the European Parliament, commented on the results by saying that they have "proven the strong unity of the democratic `orange` forces".

      "We are convinced that Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko will give new impetus to Ukraine`s European drive," he added.