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Ukrainian delegations head to Brussels, Moscow

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-12-04

Ukrainian envoys will head to Brussels for new EU talks as well as to Moscow, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said Wednesday, in the wake of mass demonstrations that followed Kiev's decision to abandon a deal with the EU due to pressure from Russia.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov announced that a Ukrainian delegation will travel to Brussels on Wednesday while another heads to Moscow after Kiev abandoned an accord with the European Union following pressure from Russia, a decision that sparked massive protests across the country.

“Tomorrow (Wednesday), our delegation will travel to Brussels to negotiate an EU integration agreement with favourable conditions for Ukraine,” the prime minister announced on the government’s website.

“We are still forming the delegation,” he added, without specifying who would lead the committee.

Brussels, on the other hand, said the meetings might take some time to organise.

“We can’t confirm that a Ukrainian delegation will arrive in Brussels tomorrow. We will fix a date and a location through the habitual diplomatic channels and we will make an announcement as soon as an agreement is reached,” said a spokesperson for Stefan Füle, the EU commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy.

“A second delegation will also be travelling to Moscow because we want to reinforce our strategic partnership and re-launch commercial relations with Russia,” the prime minister said.

Kiev's fresh diplomatic offensive came as thousands of Ukrainians continued to rally on the capital's Independence Square and blockading government buildings. Scores of tents have been erected on the square and several of the streets leading to it have been blocked with makeshift barricades using wooden pallets.

Internal turmoil

Ukraine’s parliament, which is controlled by the party of President Viktor Yanukovych, rejected a no-confidence vote against Azarov on Tuesday. The main opposition party had blamed the prime minister for both the failure of the integration agreement and violent crackdowns on pro-European demonstrators.

The Ukrainian government made a sudden diplomatic U-turn at the end of November when it suspended the signing of a deal promising closer ties with the EU, which had been months in the making, and reached out to Russia.

Mass protests followed. More than 100,000 protestors assembled in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev on Sunday and tens of thousands more followed suit in other towns across Ukraine.

It is the largest uprising Ukraine has seen since the so-called Orange Revolution in 2004, which overturned the government and brought in more Western-leaning leaders.

Contrary to the 2004 protests, the demonstrations over the past few days have taken a violent turn. More than a hundred people, including police, students and journalists, have been injured as the authorities crack down on protests.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2013-12-04


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