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The President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy had a phone conversation this afternoon with the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. The main topic was Ukraine. The Presidents discussed the financial and security situation in the country.

Also President Barroso spoke today on the phone with Prime-Minister Yatseniuk. He euwished him resolve and determination in tackling the important challenges that Ukraine currently faces, in particular the political and social stabilisation and the inclusiveness of future reforms.

President Barroso expressed the EU’s readiness to support democratic reforms in the country and informed of the internal work underway on options to assist Ukraine’s economic modernisation.

Both President Barroso and Prime-Minister Yatseniuk concurred on the need to address the current tensions in Crimea through political dialogue in the framework of the country’s unity and territorial integrity.

In this respect and following-up on previous visits, High-Representative/Vice-President Ashton will travel to Ukraine next week for political contacts. In parallel a mission from the European Commission will also travel to Kiev to conduct an assessment of the needs.

Both economic and political transformations are considered essential for countries to be considered eligible form membership of the EU. It puts a greater responsibility on the new Ukrainian government – interim and beyond – to deliver the changes the people have asked and fought for. It puts also a greater responsibility on the European Union to extend all our support and expertise to ensure that these changes are put on solid ground and will be sustainable.