German Chancellor puts weight behind Ukraine opposition
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has joined other European authorities putting her weight behind anti-government, pro-EU protesters in Ukraine irrespective of calls for outsiders not to intervene.
Merkel told German lawmakers in a speech at the parliament that the Ukrainian government must listen to the demands of protesters, praising demonstrators for their courage to raise their voice against the Kiev government.
"They are fighting for the same values that guide the European Union and that is why they must be listened to," Merkel said.
The German Chancellor said opposition rallies have been useful because they have compelled President Viktor Yanukovych to talk about "necessary political reforms".
"We support, with all the means at our disposal, efforts for a peaceful solution of the conflict and the justified demands of the opposition," added Merkel.
Merkel’s supportive comments came after Russian President Vladimir Putin called on outsiders not to interfere in Ukraine's internal affairs.
The Russian President slammed the West for meddling in Ukraine's internal affairs, saying Moscow will not scrap its aid deal with Kiev even if the opposition comes to power.
“In response to your question whether we would review our loan and energy agreements if opposition comes to power, I say: No, we won’t,” Putin said in a joint press conference with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, following an EU-Russia summit in Brussels on Tuesday.
He criticized trips by European and US officials to Ukraine to support anti-government protests, saying it had only worsened the crisis in the country.
Ukraine has been rocked by anti-government protests after President Yanukovych refrained from signing the Association Agreement with the EU at the third Eastern Partnership Summit in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius on November 29, 2013.