An opposition supporter plays the piano on the barricades in front of riot police in central Kiev

EU urges Ukraine to form new government, reform constitution

In a sharp rebuke to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, the European Union on Monday called for the formation of a new, inclusive government and constitutional reforms that would pave the way to “free and fair presidential elections.”

In a sharp rebuke to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, the European Union on Monday called for the formation of a new, inclusive government and constitutional reforms that would pave the way to “free and fair presidential elections.”

The bloc’s 28 foreign ministers said in a joint statement they were “alarmed by the human rights situation, including violence, cases of missing persons, torture and intimidation” as part of the authorities’ crackdown against the ongoing protests, reflecting an “atmosphere of impunity.”

Ukraine has been rocked by nearly three months of anti-government protests sparked by Yanukovych’s refusal to sign an agreement with the EU and accept a $15 billion loan package from Russia instead.

The political deadlock is also pushing Ukraine’s economy closer to the brink; its currency and foreign reserves are tumbling while Moscow has suspended its loan payments. The ministers at their meeting in Brussels reiterated the EU stands ready to assist Ukraine financially, provided a new, inclusive government will be formed to “pursue economic and political reforms.”

The EU has so far shied away from imposing sanctions such as travel bans or asset freezes against the Ukrainian leadership, but the foreign ministers’ demand for constitutional reform and fresh elections on Monday reflected the bloc’s growing impatience.

“A new and inclusive government, constitutional reform bringing back more balance of powers, and preparation for free and fair presidential elections would contribute to bringing Ukraine back on a sustainable path of reforms,” they said. Separately, the foreign ministers decided to start negotiations with Cuba to upgrade the EU’s ties with the Caribbean island nation.

The EU’s foreign policy chief, however, cautioned that progress will depend on Cuba’s determination to implement further reforms toward opening its economy and respecting fundamental rights.

The Cuban government later issued a statement attributed to Deputy Foreign Minister Rogelio Sierra Diaz saying dialogue with the EU should be “based on a reciprocal, unconditional and non-discriminatory approach.”

The EU resumed low-level contacts with Cuba in 2008, two years after Raul Castro became president and started granting Cubans some more freedom.

European nations have long traded with Cuba and thousands of Europeans flock to the island’s beaches every year.

Just Posted

Witnesses describe scene of fatal 2016 collision

Delburne man on trial for manslaughter after being accused of causing collision

31 fentanyl deaths so far this year in Red Deer

23 fentanyl-related deaths in 2017

New housing for seniors under construction in Innisfail

60 lodge units and 30 self-contained apartments

WATCH: CP Holiday Train rolls into Lacombe

Kelly Prescott performed for hundreds of Central Albertans

WATCH: CP Holiday Train rolls into Lacombe

Kelly Prescott performed for hundreds of Central Albertans

Dumba scores twice, Wild rout Canadiens 7-1

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Reeling and banged up, the Minnesota Wild were… Continue reading

Coach Hunter wants up-tempo Team Canada as world junior squad hits ice

COLWOOD, B.C. — Team Canada coach Tim Hunter says the team that… Continue reading

Study finds female-led films outperform male ones

NEW YORK — A study organized by Time’s Up, the organization formed… Continue reading

Price Is Right contestant wins winter trip to Winnipeg, Churchill

WINNIPEG — Who wants to visit Winnipeg in the dead of winter?… Continue reading

CBC Gem streaming service to launch exclusive content, partners with Wattpad

TORONTO — The CBC has launched a new streaming service featuring live… Continue reading

‘Part of the solution:’ Alberta seeks proposals to build new refinery

EDMONTON — Alberta is looking for someone to build a new oil… Continue reading

Online ads spoil Christmas surprises, raising privacy concerns: experts

Lisa Clyburn knew she had found the perfect gift for her nine-year-old… Continue reading

Most Read