On the occasion of the International Day of Democracy, the European Union reaffirms its commitment towards democracy as a fundamental right of every human being. Every woman and every man has to be free to participate to the political, economic and social life of her or his country. No one should fear to speak up, to demonstrate peacefully, to go to vote or to expect fair and inclusive policies from a government. Democracy can only function if participation and trust between democratic state institutions, governments and citizens are guaranteed.
The Council has extended the restrictive measures over actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine for a further six months, until 15 March 2020.
Local and regional elections were held in the Russian Federation on 8 September and in the Crimean peninsula. The European Union does not recognise the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by the Russian Federation, and continues to condemn this violation of international law. Therefore, the European Union does not recognise the holding of elections in the Crimean peninsula. Anybody elected in the Crimean peninsula claiming to "represent" the populations of Crimea and Sevastopol will not be recognised as representatives of those territories, which are Ukrainian.
On this first International Day commemorating the victims of acts of violence based on religion or belief, we pay tribute to all those around the world who lost their lives and suffered attacks because of their religion or belief. Persecution as a response to religious belief or affiliation, or lack thereof, is a violation of international law and requires joint work to combat it.