KIEV, Ukraine, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton met with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych on Wednesday to discuss the political crisis.
During her visit to Kiev, Ashton also met with Ukrainian citizens, including many young people involved in the "Euro Maidan" rallies. At the end of her day-long meetings, Ashton acknowledged "I have to say that I have been very shocked by the reports that many have been giving me on the situation." She underlined that the foremost issue was to stop the violence and intimidation tactics.
In order to quell the crisis, Ashton encouraged "real dialogue."
"The dialogue that has happened from time to time needs to become a real dialogue. It seems to me that from looking from the outside, from the information we have, that there is a real opportunity that must be grabbed right now, to get a serious dialogue going between different parties, people, in order to try and address the concerns the people generally have about the future of the country and to bring people together. And I really hope that this will happen -- and of course if there are ways in which we can help we are pleased to do so, but this is and must be Ukrainian led, and it is really important that it goes forward."
Ashton addressed longer term concerns, encouraging Ukraine to build on legislative reforms and to consider the Constitution and constitutional reforms, and ultimately "to think about forthcoming elections, free and fair elections..."