Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Statement by High Representative Catherine Ashton on the adoption of negotiating directives for Association Agreements
Statement by High Representative Catherine Ashton on the adoption of negotiating directives for Association Agreements between the EU and Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia
Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, made today the following statement:
“I welcome the adoption by the General Affairs Council on 10 May of the negotiating directives for the future Association Agreements between the EU and Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.
The adoption of these negotiating directives is a clear sign of our strong commitment to further deepen the relationship between the EU and the countries of the South Caucasus, on the basis of shared values and principles, including democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights.
The Eastern Partnership, launched at the Prague Summit on 7 May 2009, provides an ambitious framework for taking the relationship with the countries of the South Caucasus to a new level. In this context, Association Agreements are an important instrument to upgrade our relations beyond existing commitments with a view of political association and gradual economic integration with the EU.
The negotiation process will be guided by the principles of inclusiveness and differentiation, as well as joint ownership. Successful implementation of the Eastern Partnership with the active engagement of the partner countries both in its multilateral and bilateral track will strengthen relations on the basis of shared values and will help advancing political and economic reforms, consolidate governance and foster regional stability, prosperity and confidence building.
I look forward to the launch of negotiations on these ambitious and comprehensive agreements with Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia."
Published on 11 May 2010.
Statement on the case of Awtukhowich, Asipenka and Kazlow in the Republic of Belarus
As acting local presidency of the EU in Minsk, the British Embassy is issuing the following Presidency statement.
On 6 May, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus delivered its verdict and sentenced Mikalay Awtukhowich and Uladzimir Asipenka (former prisoners of conscience) and Mikhail Kazlow to prison for the illegal handling of weapons, receiving sentences of five, three and two years respectively. Based on the observations of EU diplomats and local human rights defenders, the local Presidency is deeply concerned about the serious procedural flaws evident throughout the conduct of this trial. Of particular concern are the claims made in court by prosecution witnesses that their testimonies had been forced out of them through physical and psychological pressure.
Taking into account Mr Awtukhowich´s previous activism in promoting the rights of entrepreneurs and of Afghan war veterans, and for speaking publicly about alleged corruption, the trial can be seen as politically motivated.
The EU will further study the case and could consider further action.
Published on 12 May 2010.