NEW YORK, Dec. 2, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In response to the dramatic events unfolding in Ukraine, AJC Executive Director David Harris issued the following statement:
"AJC has had a long and close relationship with Ukraine.
"We are proud to have been among the very first NGOs to call for American recognition of the rebirth of Ukrainian independence in 1991, at a time when Washington was hesitant to do so. And Ukrainian officials have credited AJC with a significant role in the Congressional action to graduate the country from the Jackson-Vanik Amendment. We felt these Cold War-era restrictions were no longer relevant to a post-Soviet nation that embraced democratic reform, the right of its citizens to come and go as they pleased, and the reemergence of vibrant Jewish life.
"It is against this backdrop that we are profoundly disappointed by the last-minute decision of President Viktor Yanukovich to pull back from signing the accords with the European Union late last month. Those agreements would have created new institutional links between Ukraine and the EU, and the chance for a brighter, more promising future for all Ukrainian citizens.
"Since the president's pullback, many Ukrainians have taken to the streets to challenge the decision, exercising their right to gather and protest peacefully against a move they view as antithetical to their country's best long-term interests, both political and economic.
"We condemn the use of force against the demonstrators. Violence, intimidation, and bans on rallies are not the tools of a democratic society, nor should they be Ukraine's.
"We admire the courage and determination of those Ukrainians who say 'yes' to Europe and 'no' to the prospect of a bleaker future for their country. We proudly stand with them."
SOURCE American Jewish Committee