EU Offers to Help Ukraine On Justice, Reforms

KIEV, Ukraine (dpa/MCT) —

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton offered Wednesday to help Ukraine achieve constitutional reform and bring the perpetrators of violence to justice, during a visit to Kiev aimed at seeking a way out of the country’s political crisis.

“Although there is a sense of violence decreasing, there is still great concern about the situation on the ground and great concern to see that those who have committed violence are brought to justice,” Ashton said.

The EU was “more than willing to help and support” some form of “transparent and independent process” to that end, the bloc’s top diplomat said in a press conference, after meetings with President Viktor Yanukovych and members of the opposition.

Ashton’s talks with Yanukovych included perspectives for constitutional reform, according to the president’s office.

This process would “provide some security to people that stability was returning,” Ashton said, adding, “We are more than content to provide expertise and advice.”

Earlier, Ukrainian opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko urged the EU to mediate in the country’s deep political crisis.

“Someone should follow the course of negotiations and mark all commitments and obligations,” Klitschko said after meeting Ashton late Tuesday, shortly after her arrival in Kiev.

Klitschko added that Ashton had assured him that the EU is ready to send high-level mediators to negotiations between opposition leaders and the government.

Klitschko and other opposition leaders want a return to the 2004 constitution, which gives more powers to parliament and the prime minister. They accuse Yanukovych of exerting political pressure on the constitutional court which in 2010 boosted presidential powers.

The EU’s top diplomat spoke of a broad “understanding” that reforms would have to include “elements of the 2004 constitution but would also need to recognize changes.”

The president last week dismissed the government, signed an amnesty law and revoked a series of anti-protest laws, but these concessions have so far failed to placate the protesters, many of whom want early elections.

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