Washington, D.C. – Rep. Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, released the following statement regarding Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s use of riot police against peaceful protestors in Kyiv.
“I am outraged by President Yanukovych’s use of riot police against peaceful protesters last night in Kyiv. The Ukrainian authorities’ actions, made under the cover of darkness and following assurances of dialogue, are absolutely incompatible with democratic principles. While police subsequently pulled back, the authorities must understand they face a stark choice: either live up to their international commitments to respect democratic rights and enter into dialogue to resolve the current crisis, or face consequences if they resort to force.”
“All sides must exercise the utmost restraint moving forward, and Ukrainian authorities must understand that we will hold those who authorize and engage in violence against peaceful protesters personally accountable. At this critical moment, the United States must continue to stand with the Ukraine’s people as they seek peace and a democratic and European future for their country.”
On Monday, Rep. Engel sent a letter to Secretary Kerry voicing concern over the developments in Ukraine and urging the U.S. to remain focused on helping Ukraine achieve a European future.
The text of the letter follows:
December 9, 2013
The Honorable John F. Kerry
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20520
Dear Mr. Secretary:
I am writing to express my deep concern regarding the situation in Ukraine following the suspension of negotiations on the signature of an Association Agreement with the European Union (EU).
Like many, I was deeply disappointed by President Yanukovych’s decision, which defied the wishes of the majority of the people of Ukraine. I continue to believe that the agreement with the EU represents a historic opportunity for Ukraine to secure a more democratic and prosperous future for its people. Moreover, Ukraine has made significant progress over the past several years in strengthening relations with the EU, and it is a shame to see this reform process derailed by short-term interests and outside pressure.
Over the past week, tens of thousands of Ukrainians have expressed their support for democracy and a European future for their country. While the demonstrations have been overwhelmingly peaceful, I strongly condemn the violence by police on November 30. Violence against peaceful demonstrators and journalists is unacceptable, and those responsible must be brought to justice.
Mr. Secretary, I remain very concerned about the possibility of further violence. It is imperative that Ukraine’s authorities scrupulously respect and uphold essential freedoms of assembly and expression. All parties must exercise restraint, avoid confrontation, and enter into dialogue. This is the only way to resolve the current crisis. At the same time, the U.S. must make clear that we and the international community will not tolerate the use of force against peaceful protesters. Ukraine’s leaders must understand that we will hold those who authorize and engage in violence personally accountable for their actions.
I also urge you to continue to speak out in support of the democratic and European aspirations of the people of Ukraine. They must know that their voices are being heard. In this light, I applaud your recent visit to Moldova, which has made laudable progress with democratic and economic reforms, and which along with Georgia has persevered in deepening beneficial political and economic ties with the EU.
As you have said, the people of the region have the right to choose their own futures. The authorities in Kyiv need to heed the wishes of their people as they speak out in favor of democracy and further integration with Europe. As they do, the United States must stand ready to support Ukraine in the weeks and months ahead.
Thank you for your continued support for a Europe whole, free, and at peace, and for your consideration of this letter.
Eliot L. Engel
Link to the letter that Rep. Engel sent to Secretary Kerry