EU welcomes Ukrainians’ ‘deep European aspirations’
European Union President Herman van Rompuy said Wednesday that Ukrainians' "deep European aspirations" were clear and that the bloc was ready to respond to them, amid virulent protests for closer EU ties.
Speaking after Germany insisted the EU’s doors were still open to Ukraine, Van Rompuy encouraged the country to follow through with signing an Association Agreement with the bloc — the key political and trade deal whose rejection by the Ukrainian government sparked the protests.
“The European Union stands ready to respond to the deep European aspirations of the people of Ukraine, very present and visible these days,” Van Rompuy told a press conference in Rome.
“The Association Agreement, including the deep and comprehensive free-trade area, offers a future for an independent and modern Ukraine.”
He also spoke out against the excessive use of force, after a police crackdown on protests at the weekend.
“I call on all sides to show restraint and respect civil rights and liberties. Excessive use of force by the police is unacceptable,” he said.
The demonstrations erupted after the ex-Soviet country’s government, squeezed by Russia, refused to sign the Association Agreement — a key political and trade deal that marks a first step toward EU membership.