EU says local referendum on May 11 is illegal, will lead to further escalation in Ukraine
The European Union has said that a May 11 referendum in eastern Ukraine is illegal and will lead to further escalation of the situation, and therefore it should not be held.
Maja Kocijancic, spokesperson for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, expressed the EU's position at a briefing in Brussels on Thursday.
"When it comes to local referenda, we strongly emphasize that such referenda should not take place either on May 11 or any other later date, because the European Union supports the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Such unauthorized local referenda have no democratic legitimacy and can only lead to further escalation," she said.
Kocijancic said that Brussels had taken note of recent remarks made by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"We will follow developments on the ground very closely to see whether words are followed by deeds," she said.
She also expressed confidence that if the statement by the Russian president on the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine's border is reflected in reality, "this is a step that can help de-escalate the situation."
Kocijancic again urged all parties to urgently implement the Geneva agreements.
She said she was unaware of a possible second meeting in Geneva to settle the crisis in Ukraine.
She said that the work on further sanctions against Russia was underway.
Kocijancic also recalled that the EU supports the upcoming presidential elections in Ukraine, scheduled for May 25.
"We believe it's essential that free and fair elections on May 25 allow the Ukrainian people to choose their own future," she added.