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26 November, 2013  ▪  Olha Vorozhbyt

The world media buzz on the latest rallies in Ukraine: Europe stands for hope

Top international publications report on Ukrainians who took it to the street this Sunday to protest against their government’s decision to suspend preparations for the signing of the Association Agreement with the EU

The NYT “Waving European Union flags, as well as the flags of Ukraine’s main opposition parties, a sea of demonstrators chanting “Ukraine is Europe!” marched from Shevchenko Park through Independence Square, the main site of Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution, and on to European Square for a rally in front of Ukrainian House, a well-known building that houses a convention center,” reports The New York Times in a piece by David Herszenhorn published on November 24.

“Blue and yellow were the colors of the day, as some marchers wrapped themselves in the sky-blue and pale-yellow flag of Ukraine, while others wore the dark-blue flag with yellow stars of the European Union,” the publication writes.

The Guardian: “Tens of thousands of Ukrainians have flooded the streets of Kiev in the biggest anti-government protest since the 2004 Orange revolution to demand President Viktor Yanukovych reverses a decision not to sign a key pact with the European Union,” Oksana Grytsenko reports for The Guardian.

“The rally, which may herald the most serious challenge to Yanukovych's authority since he came to power in 2010, ended with scuffles with police outside government offices. Police responded with teargas,” the paper reports.

The Independent: “A hundred thousand protestors take to the streets after President Viktor Yanukovych pulls out of a historic deal with the EU amid rumours of Russian pressure. The east-west divide is rearing its head again,” Max Tucker reports from Kyiv for The Independent.

“Media and civil-society activists had come together to call for mass protest against a government decision to abandon a historic trade and political integration agreement with the European Union,” the newspaper writes.

And Ukraine responded. By noon the surrounding streets were clogged. For ordinary Ukrainians, association with Europe means much more than potential profits or losses, the article says.

“The sheer size of Sunday’s protests will give a lift to European officials, some of whom still hope to salvage the Association Agreement,” the publication writes.

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W polityce: “The hundred-thousand crowd in Kyiv’s streets gives hope to the scenario of social pressure on the government,” Piotr Skwieciński reports for the Polish publication W Polityce. “At the same time, Ukraine is governed by people from the east who are masters of bluffing,” he adds.

In his opinion, we may see surprises in the near future. “This whole situation creates a playing field for the EU and Poland. A long-term game, of course, aimed to win Ukraine over to the European side at the very least, and to weaken its ties to Russia as a bigger goal,” Skwieciński  reports.

“You won’t think that bad of Europe when you look into the faces of Kyivites. They have come to the downtown Kyiv in tens of thousands sporting EU flags on the backpacks or golden starts painted on their cheeks; then chanted “Ukraine is Europe” enthusiastically,” Berliener Zeitung reports.

“This Sunday, Ukrainian capital saw the biggest demonstration since the Orange Revolution nine years ago, and it came as a surprise for Kyivites. It had been swelling for three days after the Ukrainian government announced unexpectedly that it would not sign the Association Agreement with the EU. Now, a wave of protest has swept through the streets,” the publication writes.

The German newspaper Die Welt compares Ukrainian Sunday protests to those of 50 years ago when the European Coal and Steel Community, a predecessor of the EU, emerged.  

When did protesters wave the stars and stripes of the EU so enthusiastically for the last time? In the 1950s, on the German-French border? In 1989, then in velvet revolutions from Bucharest to Tallinn? Now, they did at protests in Ukraine, on November 24,  and in Moldova a few weeks ago.

“Europe” is a synonym of hope there. To put it more clearly, it is a synonym of thriving first of all, safety second of all, and freedom third of all. Three states that are close and dear to all people, the publication comments.

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