Guy Verhofstadt's Ukrainian intervention triggers criticism

The KU Leuven historian and Slavic culture specialist Idesbald Goddeeris says that Europe is not playing a very nice role in the Ukrainian conflict. "The EU has only added fuel to the fire by Guy Verhofstadt's intervention. This is not the end of it", Gooddeeris told the VRT radio programme "Bonus". Mr Verhofstadt calls the criticism "absurd" and completely wrong.

Mr Gooddeeris criticizes the role that the EU is playing in the matter. "We claim to be arbitrators, but in fact we have interfered because of other motives than freedom and democracy. The tension has been there for a long time. If we had wanted to help the Ukraine, we should have done it at the 2005 revolution."

Mr Gooddeeris is pointing to the treaty that the Ukraine was about to sign with the EU. That would remove obstacles for trade between the Ukraine and the EU, almost installing a free trade zone. Critics say that the EU is bearing in mind economic motives with its intervention. "The EU has created expectations that are simply too high. The Ukraine is now dreaming of an association or even EU membership but this not realistic at this stage. We are already complaining about Bulgarians and Romanians, so why would we admit Ukrainians?"

Mr Gooddeeris also lashed out against Guy Verhofstadt, who made a public address in Kiev to praise the opposition. "What he did, was either stupid or perverse." He claims Mr Verhofstadt should not have got involved in a conflict that is much more complicated than just the opposition against the presidential regime, and that involves more players than just Ukraine. By openly supporting the opposition, he openly showed his true colours and that was not a good idea, Gooddeeris claims.

He points to the fact that the opposition movement is very diverse, and that it also includes fascists. "In the European Parliament, he takes a hard stand towards the fascist parties, but here in the Ukraine, he comes to cheer them." 

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"This is absurd"

Mr Verhofstadt responded later today, calling suggestions that the European Union would have a neo-liberal and anti-Russian agenda absurd. He says Mr Goddeeris is confusing a number of arguments, and that his own fraction in the EP has always had good relations with Russia.