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EU leaders urge dialogue in Ukraine protests

Dec 06, 2013
From wire reports, RIGA

European Union foreign ministers have urged Ukrainian opposition leaders in Kiev to solve the tense situation in the country through dialogue.

Latvian foreign minister Edgars Rinkevics said opposition activists should refrain from violence and look for a formal solution to the current protests.

It follows after Ukraine refused to sign an association agreement with the European Union last month. Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said in doing so he was protecting the vulnerable in the country. Opposition leaders have called for the resignation of the leader. 

''It is up to Ukraine itself to decide what this formula will be. Neither EU, nor Russia can dictate what happens here,'' Rinkevics told the LETA news agency.

Rinkevics confirmed that the current situation in Kiev's Independence Square is calm and peaceful. However, protesters remain on the streets whilst key areas in Kiev remain blocked off.

"There is a huge desire from the demonstrators to achieve the signing of an association agreement between Ukraine and the EU," Rinkevics added.

Various addresses are being made, tents have been set-up, and active discussions are taking place. There are many people here. The opposition is handing out free soup to the demonstrators, and according to their calculations, approximately 55,000 bowls of soup are being handed out daily."

The Latvian foreign minister also reiterated to what his German counterpart said, that the EU is not supporting any side, but supporting democratic values in Ukraine. Rinkevics emphasized that if Ukraine wishes for closer integration with the EU, the door will be open.

Ukraine is currently hosting top diplomats for a meeting of the OSCE security group overshadowed by two weeks of mass protests over its rejection of an EU deal, as demonstrators kept up the pressure on President Viktor Yanukovych.
Some estimates up to 500,000 people participated in the pro-EU rally in Kiev's Independence Square last Sunday, Dec. 1.

The AFP news agency reports that thousands of anti-Yanukovych protesters remain on Kiev's central Independence Square which they have controlled and surrounded with barricades since the mass protest at the weekend.

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