Barnier to visit Russia and Ukraine

14th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

WARSAW, Jan 13 (AFP) - French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier will travel to Moscow on January 20 and to the Ukrainian capital Kiev in the next few weeks, he said Thursday, urging the need for special care to ensure stability in the region.

WARSAW, Jan 13 (AFP) - French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier will travel to Moscow on January 20 and to the Ukrainian capital Kiev in the next few weeks, he said Thursday, urging the need for special care to ensure stability in the region.

"France and Russia have long-standing relations. We want Russia to be respected and for particular care to be taken to ensure stability in this region," Barnier told reporters Thursday during a visit to Warsaw.

He is due to visit the Russian capital on January 20 and 21.

"Russia must be encouraged, with all due respect, to continue working towards reform, and to that end we must begin by showing respect for the country and its people," he said.

He said that France had taken an "unambiguous" stand in the recent political crisis in Ukraine, sparked when the pro-Russian presidential candidate, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, claimed victory over opposition chief Viktor Yushchenko in November elections.

Yanukovich was congratulated by Moscow on his alleged election win, but the Ukrainian opposition and most of the rest of the international community cried foul, leading to a new round of voting in December, won by Yushchenko.

"Our backing for the democratic process in Ukraine was unambiguous and without reserve," Barnier said.

Asked if he thought the recent events in Ukraine could influence the democratisation process in Russia, Barnier said: "I think there is definitely a link."

© AFP

Subject: French News

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