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Ukrainian president praises Western values

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko speaks to a crowded room in Zurich Keystone

Europe and the world will be safer places if Ukraine receives support in its struggle against Russia, said Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Monday in a speech before a packed room at the University of Zurich.

Poroshenko described himself as a president of peace, not war, who fights for Western values like freedom, democracy and tolerance.

Ukraine is in the middle of a process of transformation, said Poroshenko, and needs the support of Europe.

The Ukrainian president took part in the January 11 march for tolerance in Paris following the terrorist attack on the French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo and stopped in Zurich on his way to Davos to take part in the World Economic Forum.

Poroshenko was introduced by Swiss foreign minister Didier Burkhalter, who served in 2014 as co-chair of the Organisation for Security  and Co-operation in Europe.

“We are meeting here at a critical moment in the evolving Ukraine crisis,” said Burkhalter. “The fact is that the outlook is not good at the moment.”

Returning to a state of war in Ukraine would “diminish the prospects for a political solution, for national reconciliation, and for economic recovery,” Burkhalter said. “I therefore call on all sides to exercise maximum restraint, pursue the political path laid out in Minsk, and resolve their differences through dialogue.”

Swiss support

In March, said Burkhalter, Switzerland will extend the long-standing cooperation between Switzerland and Ukraine for another four years, from 2015 to 2018, and will double the previous budget for this new period to approximately $100 million (currently CHF88 million).

“As Chair of the OSCE, Switzerland worked hard to build bridges and foster dialogue and cooperation,” said Burkhalter. “While much remains to be done, Switzerland demonstrated that it can contribute to international security in ways that are useful and credible. In the current crisis-ridden environment, we intend to further expand our activities for peace and security.”

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR