Manitobans show support for Ukraine's EU integration
More than one hundred people with ties to Ukraine gathered at the Taras Shevchenko monument on the Manitoba Legislative Grounds Monday evening.
In front of the symbol of Ukrainian freedom, they waved flags and stood in solidarity with friends and family in Ukraine in hopes the country’s government will resume integration talks with the European Union.
Last Thursday, the Ukrainian government suspended plans to sign a trade agreement with the European Union in favour of reviving talks with Russia. The government was prepared to sign an Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area with the EU at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania later this week.
Many Ukrainian Canadians believe integration with the EU would strengthen Ukraine’s economy and allow the country more democracy and independence.
At the Winnipeg rally, Ostap Skrypnyk of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress said Manitobans want Ukrainians to share the same Western democratic style of society as Canadians.
“When you join the European Union, you sign up on a whole bunch of different principles and values of democracy, free speech, market economies, lack of corruption, the rule of law,” he says, adding Ukrainians currently don’t have the same freedom of speech as Canadians and are forced to deal with corrupt officials.
The European Union expressed disappointment with Ukraine’s decision and said the agreement would have attracted foreign investment to the country.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird issued a statement thatsaid “this decision represents a significant lost opportunity in Ukraine’s path toward strengthened democratic development and economic prosperity. This agreement would have embraced the values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Ukraine, and would have created a more transparent, rules-based and liberalized marketplace, transforming and developing Ukraine’s economy.”
In Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, mass demonstrations continue at the central square, the Maidan, the site of 2004’s Orange Revolution.
Around the world, the EuroMaidan movement continues to grow with protests this week in several Canadian cities.