By Barry Ellsworth</p> <p>TRENTON, Canada (AA) - The head of Canada’s 160-strong delegation that helped monitor recent Ukraine elections said Wednesday that Ottawa should strengthen ties with the Eastern European country.</p> <p>Former Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy told reporters on a teleconference call that the April 21 election of Volodymyr Zelenskiy represented an opportunity to redouble political and economic support for Ukraine.</p> <p>But at the same time, Axworthy expressed concerns about the new president, a comedian whose only political experience is playing the Ukraine president on television.</p> <p>His reservations included the lack of experience, Zelenskiy's appeal to populism, his refusal to talk to the media during the election campaign and the fact he might give in to Russian pressure and give up the fight to recover the Crimea. </p> <p>Russia invaded the Crimea five years ago. President Vladimir Putin claimed a 2014 referendum was held and the majority Russian population voted to come under Russian control. </p> <p>Other countries, including Canada, said the referendum results were questionable -- some said fake -- and urged Russia to pull out, but Putin has used it to beef up military presence in the region.</p> <p>On April 15, the Ukrainian parliament declared Crimea a territory temporarily occupied by Russia.</p> <p>During Wednesday’s teleconference call, Axworthy also addressed possible Russian interference in the election, calling it an issue Canada should take seriously. Canada has a federal election slated for Oct. 21.