EU Criticizes Russia's Position on Ukraine Agreement

World | November 25, 2013, Monday // 15:17|  views

Pro-EU demonostrators have occupied the central square in the Ukrainian capital Kiev after the government announced it was putting on hold the country's associaion agreement with the EU, photo EPA/BNES

The European Union has voiced Monday strong criticism regarding Russia's position on Ukraine's association agreement with the Union.

The President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso issued a joint statement issued Monday, voicing disapproval of Russia exerting pressure on Ukraine on the issue.

"It is up to Ukraine to freely decide what kind of engagement they seek with the European Union. Ukrainian citizens have again shown these last few days that they fully understand and embrace the historic nature of the European association," they say in the statement, but stressed the association proposal was still on the table.

"The European Union will not force Ukraine, or any other partner, to choose between the European Union or any other regional entity. Stronger relations with the European Union do not come at the expense of relations between our Eastern partners and their other neighbors, such as Russia," the statement reads.

Ukraine made the decision on the EU deal last week, saying it could not afford to break ties with Moscow. Russia is trying to bring Kiev into its own customs union.

Several rallies in Kiev have been held over the last few days, but Sunday's has been the largest so far. Rallies have been reported also in the Black sea city of Odessa and other cities.

Outraged Ukrainians say they do not want their country to become Russian province again, and pledge to not give up with the rallies until they receive assurances about the European future of their country.

Fresh clashes between riot police and pro-EU protesters were reported Monday morning in Kiev as demonstrators tried to blockade the government headquarters.

Demonstrators remain on Maydan square, heavily guarded by police. The opposition urges signing the association agreement with the EU and sacking Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his government.

The signing had been set for November 29 in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.

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Tags: President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, pressure, Association Agreement, riot police, clashes, protest, European Union, EU, Ukraine, Kiev, Mykola Azarov


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