European Union leaders wound up a two day summit in Warsaw on Friday with a clear message to countries in the Eastern Partnership programme that respect for the principles of democracy was a prerequisite to financial aid and closer integration. EU leaders told Belarus it could count on their financial help in fighting its economic crisis if it freed political prisoners and held free elections. A similar signal was given to Ukraine which has come under fire for persecuting its political opposition.
The "Eastern Partnership" programme, strongly championed by Prague during the country’s EU presidency, offers six former Soviet satellites up to 1.9 billion euro in 2010-13 to fight corruption, build up infrastructure and start other projects. Critics say the programme gives the bloc little real ability to persuade the eastern countries to reform their economies and protect human rights because it provides no prospect of eventual EU membership.
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