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NATO leaders slam excessive force on Ukraine protesters

Dec 04, 2013
By Rayyan Sabet-Parry, RIGA

European foreign ministers attending key NATO talks have slammed 'excessive force' by police on protesters in Ukraine.

Thousands of Pro-EU  protesters are still on the streets in Kiev following Ukraine's refusal to sign an association agreement with the European Union. Video footage has shown police beating demonstrators with truncheons whilst tear gas was also used. Police have also sustained injuries during the protests.

There were demonstrations outside the parliament building in Kiev on Tuesday, Dec. 3 whilst protests continued on in the evening.

Earlier, Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov apologized for the use of force against protesters. He urged calm and said the government was willing to engage in talks with demonstrators if they ended the protests.

A heated no confidence vote to bring down the government on Dec. 3 also failed.

Meanwhile, Baltic foreign ministers are also attending the talks over common defense issues including the war in Afghanistan . A NATO statement read:

"We condemn the use of excessive force against peaceful demonstrators in Ukraine. We call on all parties to refrain from provocation and violence. We urge Ukraine, as the holder of the Chairmanship in Office of the OSCE, to fully abide by its international commitments and to uphold the freedom of expression and assembly.We urge the government and the opposition to engage in dialogue and launch a reform process."

"A sovereign, independent and stable Ukraine, firmly committed to democracy and the rule of law, is key to Euro-Atlantic security. Ukraine remains an important partner of NATO and the Alliance highly values Ukraine’s contributions to international security. Our partnership will continue on the basis of the values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. NATO remains committed to supporting the reform process in Ukraine."

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