Vitali Klitschko: ‘Ukraine crisis must be solved without bloodshed’
Crimea region set to vote on joining Russia
FORMER boxer and Ukrainian Opposition politician Vitali Klitschko has said that a solution "without blood" must be found to resolve the raging crisis in Ukraine.
Klitschko was speaking on Sir John Rogerson's Quay in Dublin, across the river from where the annual congress of the European Peoples' Party (EPP) is taking place.
He told reporters that Ukraine is grateful for the support shown by the Irish People but that significant pressure now needs to be placed on Russia to withdraw from Crimea.
"The main message right now, we have to be active...The unity of Ukraine, the independence of Ukraine is very important right now," Klitschko said.
"I will be talking to European politicians. For all European politicians, we have to defend Ukraine. Ukraine has to be still independent and free," he added.
Klitchsko was surrounded by journalists and Ukrainians living in Dublin as he spoke about the conflict.
He was jostled by some anti-austerity protestors as he tried to enter the Convention Centre.
The international media has descended on Dublin for the two day congress, which is being dominated by events in Ukraine.
Opening the congress, Fine Gael chairman Charlie Flanagan said support between EU members is essential if economic recovery is to be achieved.
As Europe continues to meet the challenges brought about by the financial crisis, Ireland's story is of particular significant," he said.
"Last December as you know, we became the first euro country to exit the bailout programme. We took our place once again as a full and respected member of the eurozone," he added.
Earlier, European Affairs Minister Paschal Donohoe has hit out at commentators who describe Ireland as "the poster boy of Europe".
Mr Donohoe said using such a term insults the sacrifices made by Irish People during the last six years of austerity.
"The efforts and sacrifices made by the Irish people have been instrumental in that progress," he said.
"And the label attributed to Ireland by some commentators that Ireland is a poster boy for austerity insult these efforts and demeans the motives of the Irish people. These efforts have been made with one thing in mind; to get Ireland back to work and create a better future for all of our people," he added.
Several heads of government, including German chancellor Angela Merkel and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, are due to arrive later.
European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, will also be in attendance.
Significant focus will be paid to the remarks made by Ukrainian politicians on the crisis that has gripped their country.
Newly elected Ukranian prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, freed Opposition leader Julia Tymoshenko, and opposition MP and former boxer Vitali Klitschko are due to speak later.