Press office of the EU HR Catherine Ashton: Comments on local elections in Ukraine

European High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton commented on the recent local elections in Ukraine held on 31 October.

Respect for common values including human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law lies at the heart of the relationship between the EU and Ukraine. Ukraine has developed a consistent record of conducting elections in accordance with OSCE commitments and international standards. This was demonstrated most recently during presidential elections held in February 2010.

 Against this background, Catherine Ashton is concerned at reports from a number of election observer missions of irregularities during the local elections which were held on 31 October. These derive primarily from the electoral framework and the administration of the elections. They undermine public confidence in the electoral process and in the further consolidation of democracy in Ukraine.

 Catherine Ashton welcomes the readiness expressed by President Yanukovych to draw lessons from the local elections and advance on the adoption of an Electoral Code. Electoral reform should be conducted through a transparent and participative process and should ensure that a revised electoral framework is in place well ahead of parliamentary elections. Changes to the electoral framework shortly before the launching of an electoral process do not allow for a proper preparation of the process and run contrary to international norms and best practice.

 The EU remains ready to support Ukraine in the implementation of key democratic reforms and recalls its support for a project aimed at drafting an Electoral Code, with the technical expertise of the OSCE, in line with European standards.

 Catherine Ashton will follow closely the completion of the electoral process including the counting and tabulation of votes, the examination of complaints and appeals which should be undertaken in a thorough and impartial manner as well as the announcement of final results.