US, EU `stand with Ukraine people` in their fight: Kerry
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Last Updated: Saturday, February 01, 2014, 20:46
  
Munich: US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Saturday that the United States and European Union "stand with the people of Ukraine" amid the protests against President Viktor Yanukovych.

"Nowhere is the fight for a democratic, European future more important today than in Ukraine," Kerry told political, diplomatic and military leaders at the Munich Security Conference.

"The United States and EU stand with the people of Ukraine in that fight," said Kery, who was later set to meet Ukrainian opposition leaders including former world boxing champion Vitali Klitschko in Munich.

In an address to the annual strategic and defence conference in Germany, Kerry said that "we see a disturbing trend in too many parts of central and eastern Europe, and the Balkans.

"The aspirations of citizens are once again being trampled beneath corrupt, oligarchic interests -- interests that use money to stifle political opposition and dissent, to buy politicians and media outlets, and to weaken judicial independence and the rights of NGOs (non-government organisations)."

"Nowhere is the fight for a democratic, European future more important today than in Ukraine."

Kerry conceded that "there are un-savory elements in the streets in any chaotic situation" but stressed that "the vast majority of Ukrainians want to live freely in a safe, prosperous country".

"They are fighting for the right to associate with partners who will help them realise their aspirations -- and they have decided that means their futures do not have to lie with one country alone, and certainly not coerced.

"The United States and EU stand with the people of Ukraine in that fight."

The huge protests started in November when Yanukovych scrapped an integration deal with the EU in favour of closer ties with Kiev's historical master Moscow.

Kerry said that "Russia and other countries should not view the European integration of their neighbours as a zero-sum game".

"In fact, the lesson of the last half-century is that we can accomplish much more when the United States, Russia and Europe work together. But make no mistake: we will continue to speak out when our interests or values are undercut by any country in the region."

AFP

First Published: Saturday, February 01, 2014, 20:46


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