"Given the decision of Ukraine's Pechersk court to sentence Yulia Timoshenko to 7 years in jail, the EPP Group in the Committee of the Regions today decided to boycott the planned meeting with a high-level Ukrainian Delegation on the fringes of OPEN DAYS" announced Michael Schneider, President of the EPP Group in the Committee of the Regions.

"The verdict against Yulia Timoshenko is shocking, the indictment is politically motivated and the legal process repeatedly violated human rights. The EPP Group wants to give a clear sign that this is not acceptable and that there should be no Association Agreement with the EU as long democracy and the rule of law are not re-established."

Following a lengthy debate in the EPP Group meeting in preparation of the Committee of the Regions Plenary Session today, the local and regional representatives underlined that the Ukrainian government has not respected democracy and the rule of law and shamelessly abuses its powers to eliminate political opponents. They expressed the need to continue relations with local and regional authorities in the Ukraine and that good contacts have already been made, but that a clear message of condemnation for undemocratic, totalitarian practices had to be sent to President Yanukovych and his national government.

The EPP Group also reiterated its unequivocal support to the Conference of Regional and Local Authorities of the Eastern Partnership and the EU (CORLEAP), which held its inaugural meeting in Poznan on 8 September. The initiative aims to enhance relations with local and regional authorities in six countries namely Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine through cooperation at the local and regional level.

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