Concern over violence

Demonstrations in Ukraine Concern over violence

In view of the protests in Kyiv, the German government has called on the Ukrainian government to protect the right to freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate. The demonstrations are a clear message to President Yanukovych to sign the Association Agreement with the EU, said government spokesman Steffen Seibert.

The German government has been very impressed at the number of people in Ukraine who are willing to stand up for their convictions, said Steffen Seibert in Berlin. To stand up "for their dream of a Ukraine that shares European values and the principles of the rule of law, and which seeks closer links and closer relations with Europe."

Protect the right to freedom of expression

The German government believes that the demonstrators are sending a clear message. "We hope that the Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych hears this message," continued Steffen Seibert.

The use of force against peaceful demonstrators gives grounds for concern, added the government spokesman. The German government calls on the Ukrainian government to do all it can to protect the right to freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate peacefully. "All sides must accept responsibility, though, and thus help to ensure that there is no repetition of these outbursts of violence."

The door to Europe will remain open

Germany and the EU are still willing to sign the Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with Ukraine, stressed Steffen Seibert. "We aim to lend new impetus and a new quality to relations between the EU and Ukraine." It is up to President Yanukovych to decide in favour of the Association Agreement. That is what Angela Merkel said quite unequivocally after her meeting with the Ukrainian President during the Eastern Partnership Summit.

The Chancellor reaffirmed this in a telephone conversation with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk. The two heads of government underlined the willingness of the EU to uphold the dialogue with the Ukrainian government about the Association Agreement, should the latter demonstrate a genuine interest.

Association Agreements are agreements under international law, under the provisions of which a party enters into an association with a community, which falls short of full membership of that community. The community accords the associate member specific privileges and obligations.

"Our offer is still on the table," says Guido Westerwelle

On Sunday Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle commented on the demonstrations in Kyiv. "The people in Kyiv and in other Ukrainian cities are demonstrating for a European Ukraine. They have every right to do so. We share their wish to see Ukraine forge closer links with the European Union. Our offer is on the table. The fact that Ukraine currently holds the Chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) should be a special incentive for the government in Kyiv to respect our shared European values."

In recent days hundreds of thousands of people in Kyiv have demonstrated in favour of Ukraine signing the Association Agreement with the EU. Security forces have intervened using force in several instances.