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Milan, 9 December 2013
Statement of President Barroso on the current situation in Ukraine
During his opening speech at the New Narrative for Europe conference in Milan today, President Barroso also made the following remarks on the current situation in Ukraine:
"My appeal to all the intellectuals, to all men and women of culture, to all citizens, is not to give up to this defeatism, is to have the courage to fight the negative forces because yes, the populist forces, the extremist forces are negative forces that are today under a theme that is very often an anti-European theme, making the revival of the all demons of Europe, like extreme nationalism, like xenophobia, sometimes racism – these are negative values.
It is important, in face of these challenges - instead of keeping ourselves in the comfort zone, namely the so called establishment parties - to have the courage to go out and fight, not to give up to those arguments, to explain with reasonable and rational arguments - sometimes for some of us with emotion - why we care about Europe, why Europe is something we must cherish precisely to defend these values.
And if sometimes in Europe some of us have doubts about how important these values are, just look at Ukraine. Those young people in the streets of Ukraine, with freezing temperatures, are writing the new narrative for Europe.
When we see in the cold streets of Kiev, men and women with the European flag, fighting for that European flag, it is because they are also fighting for Ukraine and for their future. Because they know that Europe is not just the land of opportunity in terms of economic development, because they have seen what happened in Poland or what happened in the Baltic countries, but also because Europe is the promise of hope and freedom. And I think the European Union has the right and the duty to stand by the people of Ukraine in this very difficult moment, because they are giving to Europe one of the greatest contributions that can be given.
Just yesterday I had a phone call – another one - with President Yanukovych. I asked him to show restraint in the face of these recent developments, to not use force against the people that are demonstrating peacefully, to respect fully the freedoms that are so important for all of us in Europe. I have asked him to receive the High Representative / Vice-President of the Commission Cathy Ashton who will be in Kiev already tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, so she can also have a role in trying to bring some solutions to the very tense situation that Ukraine is living today. And I hope that the European forces will show their commitment to our common project. Because it is not true that is it just in the Western part of Ukraine. No, most of the Ukrainians care about a future in peace and freedom. And I think we have this duty to recognise them today. Because precisely our history is a history of openness (…)."