EU calls for ‘political dialogue’ in tense Crimea
European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso on Friday urged Ukraine's new interim leaders to seek "political dialogue" in Crimea after a dramatic rise in tensions in the pro-Russia region.
Barroso spoke by phone with the new Ukrainian prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, and agreed “on the need to address the current tensions in Crimea through political dialogue in the framework of the country’s unity and territorial integrity,” a Commission statement said.
Barroso also expressed “the EU’s readiness to support democratic reforms” and would work to help modernize its economy.
The spiralling tensions in a nation torn between the West and Russia took a severe new turn on Friday when Ukraine’s interim president Oleksandr Turchynov accused Russian soldiers and local pro-Kremlin militia of staging raids on Crimea’s main airport and another base on the the pro-Moscow peninsula. The interim authorities later regained control of the sites.
EU President Herman Van Rompuy spoke to Russian leader Vladimir Putin by telephone about Ukraine and “the financial and security situation in the country,” a spokesman’s statement said.
Putin warned the EU on the need to avoid “a further escalation of violence,” the Russian foreign ministry said.
At the same time, EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht said Friday that a proposed EU association accord with Ukraine, was “still on the table” and that it should not been seen as a measure for or against Russia.
Ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych’s rejection of the EU accord triggered the wave of protests that ultimately led to his downfall, as he favoured closer ties with Russia, which has worked to limit Ukraine’s leanings to the West.
The EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will make another visit to Ukraine next week, and a parallel mission from the European Commission will also go to Kiev to assess the country’s needs, the statement said.