Polish, German, French foreign ministers negotiate with Ukrainian president and opposition leaders in bid to end crisis
The foreign ministers of Poland, Germany and France, are in the midst of negotiations with Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, and opposition leaders, in a bid to end the bloodshed that has gripped Maidan Square in Kiev over the last days and is in danger of spreading to the rest of Ukraine, Polish news broadcaster, TVN24, reported Feb. 20.
“After talks with the opposition, on the way back to the [Ukrainian] president to help negotiations,” Sikorski tweeted late Thursday evening. “Progress made but important differences remain.”
The negotiations may lead to a shortening of the Ukrainian president’s and current cabinet’s term in office and a new constitution within the next few months, a source told TVN24. The creation of a new interim government in the short term is also expected.
What started out as relatively peaceful anti-government demonstrations centered around Maidan Square in late November 2013, has now turned to full scale violence as the authorities try to clear out the square and protestors continue to create make-shift battlements as they try to hold their ground.
Ukraine has been plagued by anti-government protests since Yanukovich, know to be pro-Kremlin, backed out of trade talks with the EU only to enter fresh ones with Russia.
The conflict escalated until Feb. 18 when clashes between anti-government protesters and police led to the deaths of 26 people. Some 350 individuals were injured.
The European Union has announced that it may introduce sanctions against Ukraine, which include the freezing of EU bank accounts and EU visa annulments, for those “responsible for the violence” and for “infringement on human rights,” TVN24 reported. It is unclear, however, who these individuals could be. The EU is expected to put together a list of people who the sanctions would cover over the next few days.
General trade sanctions proposed by the EU include a ban on the export of any materials from the EU which could be used to repress the opposition movement. Details of what such materials could be have not been released.
Finally, the EU announced that it may relax visa restrictions on EU entry for Ukrainian citizens.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Health Ministry announced that 75 people died on the streets of Kiev on Thursday Feb. 20, while 751 were injured.
Photo by Mstyslav Chernov.