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Poroshenko sworn in as Ukraine's president

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Kiev, Jun 7 (EFE).- Newly inaugurated Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who was sworn in here Saturday, said he will present a plan to resolve the conflict in the country's pro-Russian east but rejected dialogue with the insurgents.

"I want peace and I'll achieve the unity of Ukraine. That's why I'm beginning my administration with a peace proposal," the billionaire businessman said in his inaugural address in this capital's parliament building.

Without providing details, Poroshenko said he will travel shortly to the country's east with a plan for the "decentralization of power, with guarantees for the use of the Russian language in your regions, with the firm intention to not divide Ukrainians into good and bad, with respect for the regions' particularities."

He said he will call for early local elections in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, which declared their independence from Ukraine on May 12 after separatist referendums regarded as illegal by Kiev, the United States and the European Union.

"We're not going to talk with the criminals," he added, alluding to the leaders of the self-proclaimed people's republics in those regions.

However, he pledged he would grant a broad amnesty to separatists who have not killed or wounded Ukrainian military personnel or civilians and those who have not financed terrorist activities.

"I call on all those who have taken up arms illegally to put them down," he said.

The new president said he would call early parliamentary elections but stressed that Ukrainian will remain the sole official language and rejected calls by the insurgents and the Kremlin for the federalization of the country.

Poroshenko stressed the importance of normalizing relations with Moscow but, referring to the Kremlin's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in March after Crimeans voted to secede from Ukraine, said that "Russia occupied Crimea, which was, is and will be Ukrainian."

Russians in the Crimea had reacted with alarm in February when a government including far-right Ukrainian nationalists took power in Kiev. Moscow deployed troops in the peninsula, claiming it was protecting ethnic Russians and Russia's interests.

The West has denounced Russia's annexation of Crimea as illegal and also accuses the Kremlin of fomenting unrest elsewhere in eastern Ukraine. Moscow denies that it is stoking the separatist movement and has blasted Kiev for its military operations in that region.

Poroshenko also said he will seek shortly to sign a trade agreement with the European Union, saying that pact would be the first step in Ukraine's eventual entry into the 28-nation bloc.

Long-simmering tensions between pro-European western Ukraine and the country's eastern region, which has close ties with Russia, were exacerbated by the ouster in late February of President Viktor Yanukovych, a Russian-speaker from the East.

The crisis that led to Yanukovych's ouster, which Russia terms a coup, erupted at the end of November, when Yanukovych backed away from plans to ink a pact with the European Union and instead signed a $15 billion financial-aid package with Russia.

Brussels' offer of closer ties with the EU was conditioned on a pledge by Ukraine not to enter into any additional economic accords with Russia, Kiev's leading trade partner and energy supplier.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Poroshenko, who both attended Friday's D-Day commemoration in northwestern France, made a joint appeal for the "soonest end to bloodshed in southeastern Ukraine and combat by both parties, the Ukrainian armed forces and supporters of the federalization of Ukraine," a Kremlin spokesman told Russian news agencies.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/agencia-efe/140607/poroshenko-sworn-ukraines-president