Only one day ago, some news correspondents were describing the situation in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, as a veritable hell on earth. As discussed previously by Industry Buzz, government police battled opposition forces in arguably the fiercest fighting since struggles began in November after President Viktor Yanukovich rejected a trade treaty with the European Union in favor of monetary aid from Russia. Yanukovich announced a truce Wednesday, but the government opposition once again started fighting shortly after — they claimed government forces did not observe the truce.
Today, however, peace once again found its way into the capital, this time with support from the EU. Signed by Yanukovich and opposition leaders Vitali Klitschko, Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Oleh Tyahnibok, and approved by EU ministers from France, Germany, and Poland, the relatively short official agreement includes a number of provisions:
- Within 48 hours of the signing of the agreement, a new law will restore the Constitution of 2004 — with amendments created up to the present — and signatories of the agreement will form a national unity government within 10 days after that restoration.
- Constitutional reform will begin immediately to limit powers of the President and will conclude no later than September 2014.
- The government will conduct a national presidential election between the time the new Constitution is adopted and December 2014.
- The government, the opposition, and the Council of Europe will investigate recent acts of violence.
- The government agrees to refrain from imposing a state of emergency, and opposition leaders agree to refrain from acts of violence. Both groups will withdraw from public buildings, streets, city parks, and squares.
- All illegal weapons will be handed over to the the Ministry of Interior.
According to NPR, there was skepticism among the government opposition that a deal could be reached and properly realized. Given that the truce earlier this week did not materialize into a cessation of hostilities, skepticism may be warranted, but opposition leaders did sign the most recent deal. And there are many differences between the truce and this agreement. The truce was not represented by a formal document signed by government, opposition, and EU representatives. This current pact has all the makings of something more long standing because leaders have signed it and it has the official backing of multiple interested parties. There is a long way between now and December, the period when elections are scheduled to take place; for now, though, the streets are clearer and fighting has ceased. NPR’s correspondent Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson commented that it is “amazing what has happened overnight.” It will be no less amazing to see the agreement hold up and changes in Ukraine take shape.
Image courtesy of mac_ivan via Flickr