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Vitali Klitschko: 'I know better than anyone, no fight, no win'

Yulia Tymoshenko and Klitschko have addressed the EPP Congress in Dublin where the situation in Ukraine has dominated.

Yulia Tymoshenko and Vitali Klitschko at the EPP Congress in Dublin today
Yulia Tymoshenko and Vitali Klitschko at the EPP Congress in Dublin today
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Updated 7.35pm

YULIA TYMOSHENKO, THE recently-released Ukrainian political leader, has said that her country wants to become part of the EU, and said the recent overthrow of the government was a decisive moment in European history.

Tymoshenko and her political ally Vitali Klitschko, the former heavyweight boxer, are in Dublin for the European People’s Party annual congress which has been dominated by the situation in Ukraine on day one.

In a speech to delegates which drew a standing ovation, Tymoshenko said that her country has “triumphed over dictatorship”.

“We are building a European nation, we will do this and nobody can stop us. We owe this to those who died,” she said.

She admitted she did not know as recently as two weeks ago if she would even be alive, but said her “freedom became possible because Ukraine had a real revolution.”

A short time later at a press conference in the Convention Centre, Klitschko said his country is determined to come European with “human rights and equal opportunities”.

“I know better than anyone, no fight, no win,” he said, adding later that war is the worst decision that politicians can make.

At that same press conference, Tymoshenko said that Russia had to be stopped from trying to expand into the Crimea.

imagePic: Brian Lawless/Press Association

Earlier, Klitschko held an impromptu media conference on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay in Dublin, across from the Convention Centre where the European People’s Party is taking place over the next two days.

In front of over a hundred Ukrainian nationals who are living in Ireland and had gathered to protest about recent events in their country, he told reporters he is grateful for the support from the Irish people.

He said: “The main message right now, we have to be active…The unity of Ukraine, the independence of Ukraine is very important right now.

Klitschko said he will spend today and tomorrow talking to European politicians who are gathering in the capital and added: “For all European politicians, we have to defend Ukraine. Ukraine has to be still independent and free.”

Some of the most senior politicians in Europe will arrive in the capital later with some 12 heads of State due to be greeted by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

imageCrowds gather around Klitschko in Dublin this afternoon. Pic: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

EU leaders have just concluded an emergency meeting in Brussels on the Crimea crisis where it was jointly agreed that plans to hold a referendum on the future status of the region are “illegal”.

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Separately at the EPP Congress , two politicians are vying to be the EPP candidate for the European Commission where incumbent Jose Manuel Barroso is stepping down after the years.

Delegates will elect their candidate tomorrow with current EU trade commissioner Michel Barnier and former Luxembourg prime minister and Eurogroup president Jean-Claude Juncker in the running.

As well as around 2,000 delegates, hundreds of members from the international media are at the Convention Centre.

Earlier, Minister of State for European Affairs Minister, Paschal Donohoe, hit out at commentators who describe Ireland as “the poster boy of Europe”. He said that such labels “insult these efforts and demeans the motives of the Irish people”.

First published 4.21pm

MORE: Here’s why Angela Merkel and loads of other top EU leaders will be in Dublin today

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Hugh O'Connell

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