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Ukraine: EU Criticizes Elections

The Dutch foreign minister has said the EU considers the results of the second round of the presidential elections in Ukraine "fraudulent." Bernard Bot, speaking for the current EU presidency, said the bloc does not accept Viktor Yanukovych as the winner. Various groups within the EU have already threatened Ukraine with "repercussions."

Brussels, 23 November 2004 (RFE/RL) -- The European Union used uncharacteristically blunt language yesterday to criticize the results of the presidential election in Ukraine.

Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot, who chaired the monthly EU foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels yesterday, said the entire EU was very concerned. He described the results, as announced, as "fraudulent."

"We are very preoccupied about these results, we know that they are not in conformity with international standards, and I have cited a number of steps that we are going to take, both in the context of the OSCE and ODIHR -- that we will contact the government, that we will contact in our capitals the ambassadors of the Ukraine to also send out this message that we don't accept these results and we think they are fraudulent," Bot said.

Bot said the EU has made an appeal to the Ukrainian government to review both the process and the results of these elections. He did not volunteer further details of what this might entail.

In the vote on 21 November, Prime Minister Yanukovych apparently defeated challenger Viktor Yushchenko by around 3 percent. Yushchenko -- seen as pro-Western and pro-EU -- has claimed fraud and said he will challenge the result.

Bot also said he cannot at the moment offer any clear support to the tens of thousands of people who have gathered in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv to support Yushchenko.

Bot said the EU will now await the final results. He said the EU would also raise the issue at its summit with Russia this week.

The head of the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee, Elmar Brok, said there would be "political repercussions" for Ukraine if alleged election fraud is proven. He indicated the parliament could bloc EU financial aid that would be due to Ukraine under the terms of the bloc's European Neighborhood Policy.

Brok also said his committee would order the Ukrainian ambassador to the EU to appear before it during a sitting this week "to respond to allegations of fraud."

See also: Protests Continue In Ukraine

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