US, EU ‘stand with Ukraine people’ in their fight: Kerry

Agence France-Presse
Kerry addressed the Munich Security Conference in Germany before meeting Ukrainian opposition leaders

'US, EU STAND WITH UKRAINE'. US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during the Munich Security Conference in Germany on February 1, 2014. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP

MUNICH, Germany – US Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday, February 1, 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 Kerry, 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 defense 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 organizations).”

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 realize 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 neighbors 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.” –