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Monday 15 September 2014

Ukraine charts course to Europe, wants better Russia ties

Published 23/02/2014 | 19:31

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Protesters with shields and sticks move towards the parliament building in central Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014. Ukraine's embattled president is calling the country's political crisis a coup and says it resembles the rise of Nazis in the 1930s. Viktor Yanukovych also says he has no intention of resigning or leaving the country. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)
Protesters with shields and sticks move towards the parliament building in central Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014. Ukraine's embattled president is calling the country's political crisis a coup and says it resembles the rise of Nazis in the 1930s. Viktor Yanukovych also says he has no intention of resigning or leaving the country. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

Acting President Oleksander Turchinov said Ukraine would try to improve relations with Russia but made clear that Kiev's return to European integration would be the priority.

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In an address to the nation, Turchinov spelled out the enormity of the task facing Ukraine's new leadership following the fall of Viktor Yanukovich, including stabilising an economy which he said was close to default and "heading into the abyss".

The Ukrainian President's residence
A man takes pictures as anti-government protesters and journalists walk on the grounds of the Mezhyhirya residence of Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich in the village Novi Petrivtsi, outside Kiev February 22, 2014. Hundreds of people entered the grounds of Yanukovich's sprawling residence outside Kiev on Saturday but had not gone inside the building itself, a Reuters photographer said. REUTERS/Konstantin Chernichkin (UKRAINE - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST MEDIA)
A man takes pictures as anti-government protesters and journalists walk on the grounds of the Mezhyhirya residence of Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich in the village Novi Petrivtsi, outside Kiev
A man sings karaoke in the abandoned mansion

"We recognise the importance of relations with the Russian Federation and are ready for dialogue with the Russian leadership in order to build relations with this country on a new, truly equitable and good-neighbourly basis," he said.

But he added: "Another priority is the return to the path of European integration ... We must return to the family of European nations."

Turchinov, the parliamentary speaker, was handed the president's duties temporarily in a vote in the chamber earlier on Sunday.

He portrayed the economy as in dire straits and said economic recovery was a key task.

"Against the background of global economic recovery, the Ukrainian economy is heading into the abyss and is in a pre-default state," he said.

"The task of the new government is to stop the country's slide into the abyss, to stabilize the exchange rate, guarantee the timely payment of salaries, pensions and stipends, and to regain the confidence of investors, promote the development of enterprises and the creation of new jobs."

Russia said this evening it had recalled to Moscow its ambassador in Ukraine for consultations on the "deteriorating situation" in Kiev, a day after the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovich.

"Due to the deteriorating situation in Ukraine and the need for a comprehensive analysis of the situation, the decision was made to recall the Russian ambassador to Ukraine for consultations in Moscow," the ministry said in a statement.

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