30th Nov 2022

Ashton in two-day visit to Ukraine

  • Ukrainian riot police were outnumbered by protesters who took down Lenin's statue (Photo: Ivan Bandura)

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will travel to Kiev Tuesday (10 December) to bring "clear EU messages" as thousands of Ukrainians continue to protest President Viktor Yanukovych's rejection of closer ties with Europe.

"She is travelling there to support a way out of the political crisis in Ukraine," said her spokesperson, adding that Ashton will meet figures from the government, the opposition and civil society on her two-day visit.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The spokesperson cautioned against seeing it as a "mediation" trip, saying it should be seen as part of the EU standing behind "political dialogue" in the country.

It is the first major move by the EU since Yanukovych in late November said he would not be signing a trade pact with Brussels, citing Russia pressure to get Kiev to join its sphere of influence.

The decision prompted an outpouring of anger on the streets of Kiev with protestors waving Ukraine and EU flags. It culminated Sunday - with an estimated 300,000 people on the streets - in the toppling of a statue of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.

The "second very important element" of Ashton's visit is to ask for an investigation into the "violence against peaceful protestors," said the spokesperson.

Yanukovych ordered a crackdown on the protestors directly after the failed summit in Vilnius where the trade agreement was to be signed.

Media reports Monday said that riot police had been deployed in central Kiev with protesters occupying Independence Square and Kiev city hall for over a week.

The demonstrations have been the biggest the country has seen since the 2004 Orange Revolution.

EU-Ukraine relations have been in a state of flux since the Vilnius summit. Brussels has continued to hold the door open to Kiev signing the trade agreement at a later date.

More broadly it resulted in much analysis about the EU's way of doing business, whether its incremental approach based on abiding by democratic standards and rules can trump the more forceful geopolitical hand displayed by Russia's Vladimir Putin.

Yanukovych, for his part, has kept relatively quiet over the last week.

According to the Guardian newspaper, he released a statement on Monday saying he supported an "all-nation round table" to find a political solution.

The EU has meanwhile given encouragement to Ukrainian protesters.

"I think the European Union has the right and the duty to stand by the people of Ukraine in this very difficult moment, because they are giving to Europe one of the greatest contributions that can be given," said European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

"Those young people in the streets of Ukraine, with freezing temperatures, are writing the new narrative for Europe," he added.

EU Commission proposes suspending billions to Hungary

Prime minister Viktor Orbán's government has to implement 27 measures "fully and correctly" before any payment from the €5.8bn recovery fund can be made, or the suspended €7.5bn of cohesion funds can be unblocked.

Frontex leadership candidates grilled by MEPs

Terezija Gras from Croatia, Dutchman Hans Leijtens, and Frontex's current interim executive director Aija Kalnaja, are all competing for a job left vacant by the resignation of Fabrice Leggeri.

Frontex leadership candidates grilled by MEPs

Terezija Gras from Croatia, Dutchman Hans Leijtens, and Frontex's current interim executive director Aija Kalnaja, are all competing for a job left vacant by the resignation of Fabrice Leggeri.

Portugal was poised to scrap 'Golden Visas' - why didn't it?

Over the last 10 years, Portugal has given 1,470 golden visas to people originating from countries whose tax-transparency practices the EU finds problematic. But unlike common practice in other EU states with similar programmes, Portugal has not implemented "due diligence".

News in Brief

  1. 'Pro-Kremlin group' in EU Parliament cyberattack
  2. Ukraine will decide on any peace talks, Borrell says
  3. Germany blocks sale of chip factory to Chinese subsidiary
  4. Strikes and protests over cost-of-living grip Greece, Belgium
  5. Liberal MEPs want Musk quizzed in parliament
  6. Bulgarian policeman shot dead at Turkish border
  7. 89 people allowed to disembark in Italy, aid group says
  8. UN chief tells world: Cooperate on climate or perish

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. EU Commission proposes suspending billions to Hungary
  2. EU: Russian assets to be returned in case of peace treaty
  3. Frontex leadership candidates grilled by MEPs
  4. Portugal was poised to scrap 'Golden Visas' - why didn't it?
  5. Why the EU asbestos directive revision ... needs revising
  6. Nato renews membership vow to Ukraine
  7. Catalan spyware victims demand justice
  8. Is the overwhelming critique of Qatar hypocritical?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us