Putin and EU split on Ukraine election
25 November 2004, AMSTERDAM — Russian President Vladimir Putin has joined with the European Union to call on Ukraine's leaders to find a peaceful solution to the election crisis gripping the former Soviet republic.
25 November 2004
AMSTERDAM — Russian President Vladimir Putin has joined with the European Union to call on Ukraine's leaders to find a peaceful solution to the election crisis gripping the former Soviet republic.
But speaking as President of the EU, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende emphasised that "the EU can't accept the result of the election as it now stands".
Putin, on the other hand, made a point earlier on Thursday of congratulating the pro-Russian candidate on his controversial victory.
The Russian President was in the Netherlands for a crucial summit with EU leaders. Tension is running high between Russia and the EU over the political turmoil in Ukraine.
Putin backs Viktor Yanukovich, who has been declare the winner of Ukraine's election. The EU and the US dispute the result and claim mass electoral fraud deprived pro-western opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko of victory.
Yushchenko's supporters have organised mass demonstrations of tens of thousands of people to push for the result to be annulled. Some observers have warned of the danger of armed conflict between the rival sides in Ukraine.
The Netherlands currently holds the revolving presidency of the EU and hosted the EU-Russia summit in The Hague.
The meeting was scheduled to begin at 9.45am on Thursday but Putin was delayed when his plane was diverted from Valkenburg airfield to Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport due to a heavy mist. Air traffic controllers warned that the freezing mist had reduced visibility for all planes flying to and from the Netherlands.
This is the first meeting between the Russian president and the new European Commission headed by Jose Manuel Barroso.
The meeting is expected to be dominated by the disagreement over Ukraine.
The EU has issued a strongly-worded statement which has angered the Russians.
"The EU does not believe these results reflect the will of the Ukrainian people," the statement said. It also called on the Ukrainian authorities to investigate all complaints about the electoral process.
Moscow has officially recognised Yanukovich's victory and warned that calls for a review of the result were "openly pushing the opposition toward illegal, violent actions".
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news, Russia and the EU, Ukraine