News / Europe

US Calls on Ukraine to Listen to Its People

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at a news conference during a NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels December 3, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at a news conference during a NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels December 3, 2013.
Reuters
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged the Ukrainian government on Tuesday to “listen to the voices of its people” after President Viktor Yanukovych's decision to spurn an agreement with the European Union sparked days of massive protests.

Kerry said Ukrainians had demonstrated “in unbelievable
numbers” their support of the accord on closer ties with Europe, which Yanukovych rejected last week in favor of Russian incentives.

”Mr. Yanukovych has obviously made a personal decision and
the people don't agree with that decision,” Kerry said after a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels.

”Clearly there is a very powerful evidence of people who would like to be associated with Europe... we stand with the vast majority of the Ukrainians who want to see this future for their country,” he told a news conference.

People sing the national anthem as they attend a rally held by supporters of EU integration near the presidential administration building in Kyiv Dec. 3, 2013.People sing the national anthem as they attend a rally held by supporters of EU integration near the presidential administration building in Kyiv Dec. 3, 2013.
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People sing the national anthem as they attend a rally held by supporters of EU integration near the presidential administration building in Kyiv Dec. 3, 2013.
People sing the national anthem as they attend a rally held by supporters of EU integration near the presidential administration building in Kyiv Dec. 3, 2013.
”We urge the Ukrainian government to listen to the voices of its people who want to live in freedom and in opportunity and prosperity. We urge all sides to conduct themselves peacefully. Violence has no place in a modern European state,” said Kerry.

Earlier, NATO foreign ministers condemned the use of “excessive force” against protesters in Ukraine and urged all sides to refrain from provoking further clashes.

Ukrainian police used batons and stun grenades last weekend to break up pro-Europe protests.

Kerry said he saw no role for the 28-nation NATO in resolving the crisis, despite the ministers' statement.

”This is really something the people of the [sic] Ukraine need to work out with their leadership and the leadership needs to listen to the people,” he said.

Bidding war

In a reference to Russia's efforts to lure Ukraine away from the European Union, Kerry said Ukrainians should be allowed to make their own choice without “a bidding war.”

”There is some evidence in the last 24 hours that the leadership has responded by saying that the door may in fact remain open, that they may re-look at this issue. I don't know,” he said.

Kerry chose not to visit Ukraine this week for a ministerial conference and instead will travel on Wednesday to its neighbor, Moldova which, like another former Soviet republic, Georgia, initialed an agreement on closer EU ties last week.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland will go to Kyiv instead of Kerry for the meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe which Ukraine chairs.

”I personally will be going to Moldova in order to support that country's European choice,” Kerry said. “I look forward to visiting Ukraine when it too gets back on the path to European integration and economic responsibility.”

Russia has responded to Moldova's moves towards Brussels by cutting off imports of Moldovan wine. Wine sales to Russia have been an important source of revenue for the country of about 3.5 million people, which is the poorest in Europe.

A senior State Department official said Washington was working with the EU to help the Moldovan wine industry find new markets and, to emphasize this, Kerry plans to visit a historic winery on the outskirts of the Moldovan capital, Chisinau.

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Chris from: Ukraine
December 05, 2013 3:21 PM
I live in Ukraine, I can see that the government is and has been acting in the best interest for their wallets and not in the interest of the people. Pres. Yanik. is a marionette dancing on stage in Kiev being controlled by Putin and the Kremlin. Ukraine needs to put a lot of distance between itself and Russia for the benefit of the future... Yes other EU countries are in recession and are is dire need of assistance, this is true, but keep in mind you are talking about countries with less than 10% of the geological resources that Ukraine possesses. Let's be truthful about it, Russia needs Ukraine or it will starve. It is time for Ukraine to be given the chance to make their own decisions instead of being conned into taking action in the interest of Moscow. Glory to Ukraine!!! UkrainEUkraine!
In Response

by: Igor from: Russia
December 06, 2013 4:39 AM
Hello Chris! I do not think Moscow can affect the leaders of Ukraine. It is the interest of Ukraine people that affects their actions. The relation between the two nations is friendship and partnership. Do you still remember the terrible consequences of the so called "Orange Revolution"? Do not let the illusion deceive you any longer.

by: Igor from: Russia
December 04, 2013 9:31 PM
To Anna from Ukraine: Dear Anna. As president of a nation, Mr. Viktor Yanukovych has to consider which is best for Ukraine at the moment and in the future. His actions must not based on equivocal feeling. Russia is a great neighbour and a great friend of Ukraine. He cannot ignore Russia and take terrible consequences for his nation. Joining the EU may be good but it is not an urgent need because many EU countries are facing economic crisis and the wealthy nations of that bloc have failed to rescue the weaker economies. Joining the EU now would turn Ukraine's economy into chaos and disorder. There would be more unemployed persons. The economy would collapse rapidly because it cannot compete with those of some wealthy nations. Your money would be of no value and there would be a risk of civil war.

by: Lara
December 04, 2013 3:36 AM
good for him (Kerry)

by: Andrew oforma from: Nigeria
December 03, 2013 11:59 PM
There is a saying that power belong to the people ( that is political sovereignty). Ukrainian government has to listing to its people. policy or decision of any government should be peoples oriented not personal decision like Ukrainian authority is doing now.
For me the decision of signing the pact with EU is uncalled for and uncultivated behavior.

by: Igor from: Russia
December 03, 2013 11:10 PM
Mr. Kerry, how can you be sure that joining the EU is the wish of the majority of Ucraine? And how can you be sure that joining the EU would benefit Ucraine? Your words are totally baseless because they are not based on any statistic data. I can only see that you are persuading the government of Ucraine to listen to you and believe in your baseless words.
In Response

by: Christine from: Chicago
December 05, 2013 7:24 PM
How can he be sure? Does the majority of the people expressing their want of joking the EU not add up to what the people want? And since when has Russia been a great neighbor and a good friend to Ukraine? Creating a genocide through starvation that took 6 million lives, executing anyone who speaks out, practically extinguishing the language and the culture of the people of Ukraine. Good friend? Good neighbor? You have got to be kidding!
In Response

by: Anna from: Ukraine
December 04, 2013 1:45 PM
Dear Igor from Russia, before you leave a comment, make sure you spell the name of the country correctly. IT'S UKRAINE. Joining the EU will benefit more for Ukraine than joining Russia. Thousands of people are on a strike, we know better what we want for our country. We`re already fed up with Russia.

by: us from: us
December 03, 2013 6:02 PM
Right? As if the people controlling the US listen to what the people want.

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