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

Red Deer man says more cardiac care needed here

Ryan Gillies spent several extra days in hospital waiting to get a stent in Edmonton

Red Deer gets ready for CFR 45

A $20 to $25-million annual injection to the local economy

Former Red Deer teacher going to trial on child porn charges

Charges were laid in January 2017 after a woman came forward

Red Deer agency reports more than 1,000 lives saved with naloxone

Turning Point distributes 5,855 naloxone kits

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Got milk? Highway reopened near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month