UKRAINIAN OPPOSITION LEADER KLITSCHKO SAYS UKRAINIANS HAVE PROVEN THEIR DETERMINATION, APPEALS FOR SUPPORT IN MUNICH

Radio Free Europe on February 1, 2014, reported that Ukrainian opposition leader Vitali Klitschko says that the Ukrainian people have shown their will for political change despite violence against them. Excerpts below:

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference on February 1, the former world heavyweight boxing champion-cum-lawmaker called on friends of Ukraine in the West to help Ukraine’s democratic movement succeed.

Klitschko also said the opposition’s goals are to reduce tensions in the crisis and for the government to abandon what he called a path of terror and violence against protesters and free more than 300 people who have been detained.

Ukraine has dominated discussions at the Munich conference, which ends on February 2.

Earlier in the day, U .S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the Ukrainian people are engaged in a fight for democracy.

He told the annual gathering of global political leaders and defense officials that “nowhere is the fight for a democratic European future more important today than in Ukraine.”

Clashes between protesters and police intensified after strict antiprotest legislation was imposed last month, before being rescinded.

…Kerry told the Munich audience that, “the vast majority of Ukrainians want to live freely in a safe and a prosperous country and they are fighting for the right to associate with partners who will help them realize their aspirations and they have decided that that means their futures do not have to lie with one country alone and certainly not coerced.”

Kerry added that the United States and the EU stand with the people of Ukraine in their right to make their own decisions.

And, he said, “Russia and other countries should not view the European integration of their neighbors as a zero-sum game.”

Kerry met with Ukrainian opposition leaders on the sidelines of the conference, a development seen as a major boost to the protest movement. The opposition leaders included Klitschko and Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

The meetings in Munich took place a day after Ukraine’s army urged the president to take “urgent steps” to stabilize the country and end the unrest.

Meanwhile, NATO’s chief and Russia’s foreign minister sparred over Ukraine as they each addressed the conference.

Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told the annual global gathering of hundreds of top leaders, diplomats and defense officials that “Ukraine must have the freedom to choose its own path without external pressure.”

Also on February 1, EU President Herman Van Rompuy reiterated that the association deal is still available to Ukraine. “We know time is on our side. The future of Ukraine belongs with the European Union,” Van Rompuy said.

The three-day Munich Security Conference is addressing international issues including crisis in Ukraine, the war in Syria, Iran’s nuclear program, and U.S. online surveillance.

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