News / Europe

Russia, EU Try to Bridge Differences Over Ukraine

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrives for an EU foreign ministers meeting at the European Council building in Brussels, Dec. 16, 2013.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrives for an EU foreign ministers meeting at the European Council building in Brussels, Dec. 16, 2013.
Lisa Bryant
The European Union sought to reassure Russia Monday that a trade agreement between Europe and Ukraine would not harm Moscow. Foreign ministers from both sides spoke in Brussels Monday, amid European divisions over how to move forward.

Speaking to reporters following a luncheon meeting between European Union foreign ministers and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Brussels, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Russian fears about a trade agreement between Europe and Ukraine were unfounded.

"What we've been saying to our Russia counterpart is there is no need to operate in an atmosphere of pressure. What we should be doing is making sure that both countries have a free choice about the agreements they reach," she said. "But also recognizing that in a world of free trade agreements, and under the WTO, it's very normal for countries to have agreements with many other countries."

Talks between the two sides took place on the sidelines of an EU foreign ministers meeting. They follow weeks of mass protests in Ukraine after the country's president, Victor Yanukovych, backed away from a long-planned trade deal with the EU under pressure from Moscow.  Yanukovych heads to Moscow Tuesday for discuss a roadmap for better trade relations with Russia.

Speaking to reporters after the Brussels meeting, Foreign Minister Lavrov sought to paper over differences with Europe.

"It was our common agreement that everyone should respect sovereignty of any country, including Ukraine, and everyone should allow the people to make the free choice of how they want to develop their country," he said.

Divisions also exist among EU members on how to handle Kyiv. The block's enlargement chief Stefan Fuele tweeted on Sunday that the trade talks with Kyiv were on hold. That has drawn criticism from the Netherlands. EU members say the door remains open.

Still, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt voiced EU frustrations about Yanukovych's seemingly inconsistent policy, in which he has appeared to move closer and then distance himself from a trade deal.

"Talks require a policy…and there's doublespeak from President Yanukovych," he said.  "He's sending one of his deputy prime ministers to Brussels to say nothing and then he says says another thing in Kyiv."

Nonetheless, Bildt says, if Kyiv sends a clear message favoring a trade agreement, the EU is ready to sign it.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid