By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
KYIV,UKRAINE (BosNewsLife)– The foreign ministers of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization have condemned the use of what they call “excessive force” against pro-European protesters in Ukraine, amid escalating tensions in the former Soviet nation.
Speaking after talks of the NATO military alliance in Brussels, Belgium, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged Ukraine’s leadership to listen to what he called “the voices of its people”.
“The powerful expressions of support for Europe in cities all across Ukraine have
really been quite extraordinary,” he said. “People of all different backgrounds are giving voice to their very real and very deep aspirations,”Kerry added.
“And we urge the Ukrainian government to listen to the voices of its people who want to live in freedom and in opportunity and prosperity. And we urge all sides to conduct themselves peacefully. Violence has no place in a modern European state,” the secretary explained.
He spoke while thousands of pro-EU demonstrators defied riot police in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv.
Waving flags and shouting slogans, they condemned the government’s decision not to sign the European Union Association Agreement. The accord is seen as key to Ukraine’s European integration.
Waving flags, protesters urged the Cabinet to resign and call for early elections.
Their demonstrations came while in the nearby parliament building, the opposition failed in their attempt to out the government through a no-confidence motion.
Speaking during a rowdy parliamentary session, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov apologized for the use of police force against protesters, in which dozens were injured in recent days.
But the government leader also defended Ukraine’s decision to suspend talks with the EU.“We had a strong recession, it was a very important factor that economists understand,” Azarov said.
“We faced it as we could, in very poor conditions, with very high natural gas prices. Secondly, we’ve lost out a lot in trade, especially with Russia,” he told parliament, amid loud chants of “resign” from opposition legislators.
The opposition has vowed more protests.
Yet, for now, the government has made clear it will first listen to the wishes of powerful neighbour Russia, which opposes Ukraine’s closer ties with the EU.