Updated at 16:11,02-12-2016

Ashton concerned about state of democracy in Ukraine and Belarus

In the run-up to the Eastern Partnership summit Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, expressed concern over the democracy situation in Belarus and Ukraine.

As informed by UNIAN , Catherine Ashton stated that in Strasbourg the day before during the hearings at the European Parliament.

Catherine Ashton in particular stressed that in early September she already sent a message to Ukraine in which she underlined that respect to democracy principles and the rule of law, including the right for independent and fair trial remain the foundation of the EU-Ukraine relations.

"Stefan Fuele (the EU enlargement and neighborhood policy commissioner), and me, are in particular concerned by the cases against Yulia Tymoshenko and other members of her government, and also by the plans to return to the previous electoral system, despite international recommendations," Catherine Ashton stated.

She also reminded that after the upsurge of political crackdown in Belarus in December 2010 the EU unequivocally demonstrated their position, imposing sanctions against the regime and stepping up cooperation with civil society representatives.

"In Poland (the Eastern Partnership summit is to take place in Warsaw) we would leave no room for doubt for our partners concerning the fact that recognition of their European aspirations and European choice by the EU is to march at step with our expectations concerning their commitment to make progress in the direction of deep and stable democracy," Catherine Ashton stressed.

She noted that for today Eastern partners of the EU are at different stages on the way to democracy, and underlined that the EU should offer them practical assistance in the process of political association and economic integration.

The Eastern Partnership summit is to take place in Warsaw on September 29-30. This initiative was started in May 2009 and aimed at stepping up cooperation of the EU with Eastern neighbours: Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.