VIENNA , May 6 (UPI) -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov urged national dialogue in Ukraine as the 47-member Council of Europe met in Vienna, Austria, on Tuesday.
Lavrov said during a news conference at the meeting it was up to Ukrainians to decide their country’s future. He suggested authorities in Kiev listen to activists in eastern Ukraine, many of whom are Russian descendants and Russian-speakers, and seek greater autonomy for their region.
The Ukraine situation dominated Council of Europe proceedings, although diplomacy has had little effect on the crisis thus far. British foreign secretary William Hague, attending the meeting, accused Russia of attempting to destabilize Ukraine’s May 25 presidential elections, but he added a diplomatic solution to the crisis is still available.
Hague added that a cease-fire pact agreed to (and quickly ignored) last month in Geneva, Switzerland, would depend on all parties implementing it, including Russia.
French President Francois Hollande, speaking on French television Tuesday, called the Ukraine election a priority and a way to avoid civil war.
“Vladimir Putin wishes today that this election does not take place,” Hollande said.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay urged all sides in Ukraine to “make a much greater effort to find a peaceful resolution” to the crisis.