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Former Belgian prime minister addresses protesters in Kiev

11:33 24/02/2014

Former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt flew to Kiev last week to speak to anti-government protesters gathered in Independence Square. Verhofstadt, who was recently voted leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) in the European Parliament, was the first EU leader to address the protesters fighting the regime in Ukraine.

Verhofstadt (pictured, left) arrived in Kiev after several days of violent clashes that left at least 77 people dead and more than 500 injured. He travelled to Kiev with ALDE vice-president Marielle De Sarnez of France and Hans van Baalen of the Netherlands. In a rousing speech, he told the crowd: “I have the greatest respect for the courage of the Ukrainian people engaging in a long battle for their rights and in standing up for their values, European values.”

He later told the press: “We were the first to inform the people there about the EU sanctions. The reaction from the crowds was overwhelming.”

Verhofstadt’s speech was criticised by Idesbald Goddeeris, an expert in Slavic culture at the University of Leuven. “The EU has only added fuel to the fire with Guy Verhofstadt’s intervention,” he told the Flemish radio programme Bonus. “We claim to be arbitrators, but in fact we have intervened because of motives other than freedom and democracy. If we had wanted to help Ukraine, we should have done so during the 2005 revolution.”

Verhofstadt dismissed the criticism as “completely absurd”. He said there was no hidden agenda and the EU was supporting the Ukrainian opposition in its demand for “an end to corruption, media manipulation and government violence”.

The protests in Ukraine ended abruptly on Saturday after president Viktor Yanukovich fled the capital. Speaking from Sydney, the EU’s economic and monetary affairs commissioner, Olli Rehn, said: “It is important that we provide a clear European perspective for the Ukrainian people who have shown their commitment to European values.”

Photo: Belga

Written by Derek Blyth



Sorry but almost nobody in flanders exept himself take this guy , who is only hungry for the power , serious . His holdup on flanders was only to serve his gang in Belgium .

Feb 24, 2014 12:27

Verhofstadt and other EU"leaders" should be extremely wary of opening up the Pandora's box in Ukraine and Eastern Europe at large.

In any case their influence is marginal (to quote an American" diplomat", F.. the EU) and may even exacerbate an already volatile situation.

The protesters are a hotch-potch of hooligans, extremists, racists and a minority of people who genuinely seek reform and greater democracy.

But this unlikely coalition is unlikely to endure.....and God knows what will happen next.

So "Festina lente" is the order of the day.

Feb 24, 2014 15:50