Ukrainian people make history with EU pact, US says

16th September 2014, Comments 0 comments

The United States on Tuesday welcomed Ukraine's ratification of a landmark EU pact and new laws granting self-rule to the east, urging Moscow to implement a ceasefire deal in return.

"We congratulate the people of Ukraine on making history today," State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement.

By "forging ahead" with the EU association agreement "in the face of great challenges, Ukraine's leaders have carried out the will of the Ukrainian people," she said.

The European and Ukrainian parliaments held simultaneous votes to approve the political and economic association agreement whose rejection by the former government triggered the country's worst crisis since independence in 1991.

Lawmakers in Kiev also voted to grant self-rule in eastern regions under the control of pro-Russian rebels and offer amnesty to fighters under a peace plan drawn up 11 days ago to halt the bloody five-month conflict.

"We also applaud the Ukrainian parliament's passage of the laws on amnesty and special status for select parts of Donetsk and Lugansk," Harf said.

"These new laws highlight the Ukrainian government's continuing commitment to resolve the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine peacefully."

But she called on Russia and the separatists "to reciprocate and begin immediate and full implementation of the twelve steps of the ceasefire agreement."

"Russia must stop its unlawful military intervention in Ukraine, withdraw all military forces and equipment from inside Ukraine and away from its border, end its support for the separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, and agree to an effective mechanism to secure and monitor the Ukraine-Russia border," Harf added.

"The way is open for peace, but it is now incumbent on Russia and the separatists it supports to honor their ceasefire commitments and respect Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity."

© 2014 AFP

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