Friday

27th May 2022

EU chairman blames Yanukovych for 'destabilising' Ukraine

EU Council chief Herman Van Rompuy has blamed Ukrainian authorities for “destabilisng” Ukraine, as protests fan out to the east and west of Kiev.

The Belgian politician, who chairs EU summits, spoke in Warsaw on Saturday (24 January) alongside Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

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

“I strongly deplore and condemn the unjustified use of force and brutality by the Ukrainian authorities against demonstrators - with the vast majority still being peaceful demonstrators,” he said.

“Recent restrictions on fundamental freedoms … will only further destabilise the country,” he added.

The Polish leader also said it is up to the Ukrainian authorities to end "the cycle of violence.”

“The protesters do not question the unity of Ukraine. The opposition is not postulating a division of the country,” Tusk noted.

The meeting, in Warsaw, came amid escalating tension on the other side of the Polish-Ukrainian border, just 300km to the east of the Polish capital.

The opposition movement over the weekend rejected President Viktor Yanukovych’s offer to give two of its leading MPs big jobs in a government reshuffle.

Activists also seized control of extra government buildings, including, on Sunday night, the justice ministry.

Outside Kiev, protests have flared up in 15 other cities.

Most of them are in western Ukraine, where the majority Ukrainian speakers and Roman Catholics feel closer to the EU. But others are deep in Russophone and Christian Orthodox eastern Ukraine, in cities such as Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhzhya, in a sign of Yanukovych’s weakening grip on power.

The developments have prompted Ukrainian justice minister Olena Lukash to threaten to call a state of emergency.

Defence minister Pavel Lebedev - like Lukash, a pro-Russian hardliner - also made a statement.

He told Russian media that Ukraine’s constitution forbids the use of the army to suppress protests. But despite his reassurance, some Ukrainian activists saw the verbal intervention by the military chief as a veiled threat.

Van Rompuy and Tusk’s remarks go against Yanukovych’s line that the opposition is being driven by far-right extremists.

Tusk also risked angering Yanukovych and his main sponsor, Russian leader Vladimir Putin, by calling for €3 million of EU money to be channeled to opposition groups, or “the development of citizens’ movements.”

Meanwhile, Van Rompuy held up Poland’s economic growth since the fall of Communism in 1989 as an example of what Ukraine could achieve if it makes pro-EU reforms.

“Today, only 24 years later, Poland is three times more prosperous than Ukraine,” he said alongside Tusk.

The EU chairman also gave encouragement to the Ukrainian opposition at a gala event with Polish business chiefs.

Looking back to Cold-War-era divisions in Europe, he said: “Poland … should have been a member [of the EU] from the start. History decided otherwise. But the Polish people changed the course of history.”

“Nobody can prevent the Ukrainian people from seeing their dreams fulfilled one day,” he added.

Opinion

An open letter on the future of Ukraine

Intellectuals, artists and former foreign ministers, including Norman Davies, Andrzej Wajda and Bernard Kouchner, have urged European countries to support the Ukrainian opposition.

Opinion

Ukraine on the edge

The Ukrainian crisis is the biggest threat to European stability since the Balkan Wars.

Opinion

When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin

Neither Reagan nor Gorbachev achieved their goal at the famous Reykjavik summit of 1986. Despite that fact there are lessons that current leaders — particularly Vladimir Putin — could adopt from these two iconic leaders.

Opinion

Orbán's overtures to Moscow are distasteful and detrimental

Some Western European politicians are reviving the chimera of a negotiated settlement. None of this makes the current, half-hearted approach towards sanctioning Russia look better — nor does it shed any favourable light on the cravenness of Hungary's current government.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch journalists sue EU over banned Russia TV channels
  2. EU holding €23bn of Russian bank reserves
  3. Russia speeds up passport process in occupied Ukraine
  4. Palestinian civil society denounce Metsola's Israel visit
  5. Johnson refuses to resign after Downing Street parties report
  6. EU border police has over 2,000 agents deployed
  7. Dutch tax authorities to admit to institutional racism
  8. Rutte calls for EU pension and labour reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. EU summit will be 'unwavering' on arms for Ukraine
  2. Orbán's new state of emergency under fire
  3. EU parliament prevaricates on barring Russian lobbyists
  4. Ukraine lawyer enlists EU watchdog against Russian oil
  5. Right of Reply: Hungarian government
  6. When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin
  7. Orbán oil veto to deface EU summit on Ukraine
  8. France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us