Deputy Secretary of State Burns discusses Ukraine's political and economic recovery

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns addressed reporters in Kiev on Wednesday to discuss the situation in Ukraine and U.S. efforts to support the country during its political transition and economic recovery.
By JC Finley  |  Feb. 26, 2014 at 11:16 AM
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KIEV, Ukraine, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns traveled to Kiev for meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday to consult with Ukrainian leaders, the business community, and civil society concerning U.S. support for the politically and economically unstable country.

Speaking at the U.S. Embassy in Kiev on Wednesday, Burns conveyed a message from the president and secretary of state, "a message of deep admiration for the courage and determination of Ukrainians in the face of last week's tragic violence, and a message of strong American support for a stable, democratic, inclusive, and prosperous Ukraine."

In his meetings with Ukrainian politicians and opposition leaders, he encouraged parliament to establish "a multi-party, technical government that represents all regions of Ukraine." Once formed, the U.S. and other international parties -- presumably the EU -- can begin economic assistance and support political and economic reforms.

The U.S., Burns said, would also support Ukraine's "unity and territorial integrity, and healthy relations with all of its neighbors, including Russia."

When asked how Ukraine will establish a healthy relationship with Russia, whose relationship with the now-deposed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych acted as a catalyst for the Euromaidan demonstrations that brought about such political change, Burns replied:

"... I don't underestimate the challenges ahead. But objectively, it seems to me to be very much in the interests of both Ukraine and Russia to have a healthy economic relationship, and also over time to build a stable and healthy political relationship. That’s never easy."

Euromaidan demonstrations began in Kiev in November 2013 after then-President Viktor Yanukovych announced Ukraine would not join the EU, a move that was seen as bowing to pressure from Russia and thwarting Ukraine's attempt to advance its economy. Protests continued for months despite the freezing temperatures and threat of violence. Protesters at Euromaidan rallies, led by the government opposition parties, also demanded constitutional reform, a more balanced government power structure, and the removal of the president.

On Saturday, Ukraine's parliament voted to remove Yanukovych from the presidency. An arrest warrant was issued for the president and others for their involvement in "mass killings of civilians" at the Euromaidan protests.

Ukrainian parliamentary president Oleksandr Turchynov announced Tuesday that a government of national unity would be formed on Thursday, and presidential elections are scheduled for May 25.

[State Department]

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