NATO calls for dialogue in Ukraine
BRUSSELS - Agence France-Presse
Protesters wave Ukrainian flags during a rally in front of Ukrainian Parliament on December 3, 2013. AFP PhotoNATO foreign ministers called Tuesday on the Ukraine government and opposition to open a dialogue after President Viktor Yanukovych ditched an EU association pact, sparking violent street protests.
Unusually as the issue was not formally on the agenda, NATO said recent developments in the former Soviet state had been discussed and a declaration agreed.
"We condemn the use of excessive force against peaceful demonstrators in Ukraine," the declaration said.
"We call on all parties to refrain from provocations and violence.
"We urge the government and the opposition to engage in dialogue and launch a reform process," it added.
Foreign ministers agreed that "a sovereign, independent and stable Ukraine, firmly committed to democracy and the rule of law, is key to Euro-Atlantic security." "NATO remains committed to supporting the reform process in Ukraine," it concluded.
Ukraine is a partner of NATO, the military alliance formed in the Cold War to counter the Soviet Union, but Moscow jealously guards its influence in former Soviet states and trumped the EU association pact last week with a mixture of threats and inducements.
Yanukovych's abrupt turnaround on the EU accord set off major protests in Kiev, with police using heavy handed tactics to disperse.
On Tuesday, the Ukrainian government survived a no-confidence vote after the prime minister apologised for the police crackdown even as demonstrators massed outside parliament again.