MUNICH, Germany, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) -- The panel on central and eastern Europe at the Munich Security Conference looked more like a debate on Saturday.
Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy of the European Union (EU) Stefan Fuele, moderator of the discussion, spent some time explaining his perspectives on the situation in Ukraine before giving the floor to Leonid Kozhara, minister of foreign affairs of Ukraine.
In a room mostly filled with Europeans, Kozhara found himself on the defensive after an opening statement.
In a bid to make some sense out of the decision of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich to shun from signing an association agreement with EU, Kozhara contended that a deal offered by Russia allowed Ukraine to save 400 million U.S. dollars every month as the natural gas prices have been brought down to 268 U.S. dollars every 1,000 cubic meters from 500 dollars in the past.
What if Ukraine signed the deal with EU? Kozhara asked a rhetoric question. He explained that Ukraine would now probably be negotiating a deal with the International Monetary Fund.
After Yanukovich put the EU deal to a halt, protestors took to streets and stage demonstrations, which later turned into violent clashes with the police and are still continuing.
"The President and the government today are extremely open. We think we have met all major demands from the opposition, but today is the time that the opposition also shares responsibility," Kozhara said.
When Kozhara was still in the middle of talking, the moderator interrupted, reminding Kozhara of his "lengthy" statement. The room went quiet for a moment before the moderator resumed his role.
"Many people will challenge your assessment of the situation in Ukraine," Fuele asserted.
Fuele could surely find companions with likewise minds, who stood up shortly after Kozhara started his presentation and walked away in front of the rolling camera with shaking heads.
Vitali Klychko, Party Chairman of Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reforms and the opposition leader, was sitting beside Kozhara, murmuring when other panellists were talking.
As the last one to speak among the panellists, Klyschko's recollections dated back to 1991 when Ukraine became independent.
While other neighboring countries "developed free economies" and "implemented reforms," Ukraine was confronted with problems like corruption, he argued.
"Many people say this has been lost time for Ukraine," he said.
He briefed the participants about the process of Ukrainian president's failure to sign the EU deal before clarifying the demands of the opposition.
Ukraine will take a path of its own, Klyschko quoted Yanukovich as saying.
"But what happened later has shown that this is a path of terror and violence," he said, demanding the release of 300 protestors detained by the police, restoration of the 2004 constitution and other things.
The moderator joined the audience and greeted Klyschko's remarks with a big applause. During the question and answer session, people in the audience were not hesitant to unveil their concern about Ukraine, which, according to some, is in danger of plunging into civil war and must be saved.
Kozhara shared the concern of one questioner in his own way and condemned "extremists" and "militants" among protestors, an accusation prompted Klyschko to summon his colleague and get a pile of albums depicting scenes of clashes between the police and protestors in Ukraine.
Permission granted, Klyschko distributed the albums to panellists on the stage and among the audience.
"There are many pictures..." Kozhara said when Klyschko tried to show a picture in the album and the moderator cut in, "If you excuse me, we have to finish our panel."
That was the panel's end, with fences yet to be mended.