Debate: MEPs call on EU to support Ukrainians demonstrating for a European future 

(Top from left) Štefan Füle, José Ignacio Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra, Libor Rouček. (Middle from left) Graham Watson, Rebecca Harms, Ryszard Legutko. (Bottom from left) Helmut Scholz, Zbigniew Ziobro, Adrian Severin. 

The EU should not give up on Ukrainians protesting against their government’s decision to postpone closer links with the Union, according to the majority of MEPs during a debate on the country’s situation. However, some MEPs called Ukraine’s decision to not sign an association agreement a failure of the EU’s foreign policy and a win for Russia.

Štefan Füle, commissioner for the European neighbourhood policy, warned that Ukraine cannot afford more tension and deeper division at a time of a looming financial crisis: “A large part of population has made up its mind where Ukraine should go.”

José Ignacio Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra, a Spanish member of the EPP group, said Ukraine failing to sign the deal would not go down in history as one of the brightest moments of the EU’s foreign policy. “It is difficult to understand that until the last moment nobody anticipated the Ukraine’s president slamming the door shut.”

Libor Rouček, a Czech member of the S&D group, “We should be helping the people of Ukraine who express in a clear way that they want to go to the European Union, that they accepted the western values it stands for. This is our moral duty.”

“It is the undeniable will of the people for a European future," said Graham Watson, a British member of the ALDE group, about the protests in Ukraine.  "I wish we saw a similar passion among the peoples of the European Union who frequently take the security that membership brings for granted.”

Wearing the Ukrainian flag, Rebecca Harms, the German co-chair of the Green group, called on the EU to act: “Europe’s role is to confront and prevent this escalation of violence and make sure there will be negotiations.”

Ryszard Legutko, a Polish member of the ECR group, called the Eastern Partnership a “humiliating failure": "Russia won, the EU lost"

Helmut Scholz, a German member of the GUE/NGL group, said: “Ukrainian citizens, from east to west, from north to south, must have the opportunity to decide for themselves and the EU has to do anything possible to make this happen.”

 “The Vilnius summit was a defeat of the EU," said Zbigniew Ziobro, a Polish member of the EFD group. "The proposed cooperation was in fact rejected by our biggest partner in the region.”

Adrian Severin, a non-attached member from Romania, said: “EU must understand that its enlargement and association with its neighbours are primarily about its own security and not about their transformation.”

“President Viktor Yanukovych must listen to the people,” said chair Elmar Brok, a German member of the EPP group who is the chairman of the foreign affairs committee. He added that Moscow's use of trade pressure on Ukraine was a violation of international law.

Paweł Kowal, a Polish member of the ECR group and chair of the delegation to the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Cooperation Committee, said: “I was with the young students at EuroMaidan last night. We can turn to them and say ‘We are opening the door to you, don’t worry’.”  In his opinion, a few legislative acts such as one offering visa-free movement, could completely change the situation in a year.

MEPs will vote on a resolution on the future of the Eastern Partnership on Thursday.

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