EU urges Ukraine to fully uphold human rights
The European Union urged Ukraine on Wednesday to fully respect human rights and freedom of the press, warning that the pace of efforts towards closer ties depended on it.
"We are concerned at consistent and widespread reports of deterioration in respect for fundamental freedoms and democratic principles in Ukraine," said EU diplomacy chief Catherine Ashton and EU enlargement chief Stefan Fuele.
"Particularly worrying are complaints related to freedom of the media, freedom of assembly and freedom of association," they said in a statement to the European parliament in Strasbourg.
The EU officials issued their criticism ahead of an EU-Ukraine ministerial meeting in Luxembourg on Monday and the 14th EU-Ukraine Summit which will be held in Brussels on November 22.
"For the European Union and our member states respect for human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law are fundamental principles that bind us together," Ashton and Fuele said.
"They are principles that cannot be compromised -- so too for our relations with key partners such as Ukraine. The pace and depth of our rapprochement with Ukraine will be determined by full respect for these values."
They urged Ukraine to achieve wider constitutional reform after the constitutional court on October 1 annulled amendments that boosted parliament after the 2004 Orange Revolution.
The ruling strengthened the powers of Moscow-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych, sparking opposition claims of creeping authoritarianism.
Yanukovych has worked to soften his pro-Russian image and reassure the EU, choosing Brussels for his first foreign trip in March this year.
Last week, he said his country was determined as ever to join the European Union, provided the bloc keeps the door open.
Yanukovych, elected in February, succeeded Viktor Yushchenko, a strong proponent of Ukraine's joining both the EU and NATO, prospects which have angered former Soviet overlord Moscow.
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