As two months of protests in Kiev escalate into violence, Commission President José Manuel Barroso proposed today (23 January) to send the EU’s top diplomats to Kyiv to help dialogue and calm tensions. Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich reportedly accepted the mediation proposal and assured Barroso that he did not foresee the declaration of a state of emergency in Ukraine. 


Barroso to Yanukovich: There will be consequences if violence does not stop in Ukraine

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Barroso had a telephone conversation this morning with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, Commission spokesperson Olivier Bailly announced.

Barroso expressed his deep concern about the escalation of violence and the reports of attacks on journalists and reports of missing people.

This is not the answer to the political situation, Bailly said, adding that Barroso had urged Yanukovich to have “the highest-level dialogue with the opposition immediately”, as his role of head of state requires.

Barroso also repeated his warning from the previous day that if the situation in Ukraine did not stabilise, the EU would assess “possible consequences” in its relationship with Ukraine.

Barroso also said that the Commission offered its assistance in helping the dialogue and calming down the situation. This is why Barroso offered that Enlargement and Neighbourhood Commissioner Štefan Füle travel to Kyiv tomorrow, and that following these meetings EU foreign affairs Chief Catherine Ashton may fly to Kyiv next week.

It became clear that the EU envoys would meet with the authorities, as well as with the opposition and with civil society.

Yanukovich reportedly confirmed that both Füle and Ashton would be welcomed in Kyiv to help the political process, and that he was committed to political dialogue. He also reassured Barroso that he did not foresee declaring a state of emergency in Ukraine.

Asked if the EU was already discussing sanctions against Ukraine's leaders or was coordinating its action with US officials, who have already imposed visa sanctions on some officials, Bailly avoided a direct answer, saying that for the time being Brussels wanted to give political dialogue a chance, but if the violence continued, the EU would examine the “possible consequences” for Ukraine.

Asked what was the procedure and timeframe for introducing sanctions, he said that according to experience, each case when sanctions were used so far had been different and none resembled the Ukraine situation.

Yesterday Ukrainian opposition leaders met with Yanukovich, saying they were ready to face police bullets. At least three protestors were killed the same day. Another meeting between Yanukovich and the three leaders Vitaly Klitschko, Arseny Yatsenyuk and Oleh Tiahnibok is due to take place today.

Reportedly, Yanukovich also plans to convene an extraordinary session of the Verhovna Rada, the parliament.

In the meantime, the protestors have recounted that over the last 24 hours more than 30 medical workers had been shot with plastic bullets and beaten; more than 70 journalists have been deliberately shot at; more than 500 protestors have been injured; more than 50 activists have been kidnapped and more than five protesters have been killed. The figures have not been independently verified.