A joint declaration by 36 European countries expressing disappointment that full democracy will not happen in the city in 2012 brought a quick rejoinder from the Hong Kong government that the issue was an internal matter between the city and Beijing. The declaration by the European Union and non-member states yesterday said the EU had always supported early progress towards universal suffrage in Hong Kong. 'We are therefore disappointed that the possibility of universal suffrage for 2012 elections has been ruled out, as the Hong Kong SAR government had itself recognised in its report that the majority of Hong Kong's people were clearly in favour of this,' the declaration said. It added that Europe wished to see constructive progress towards 'universal suffrage according to international standards'. But while the pan-democrats welcomed the statement, the Hong Kong government replied: 'The implementation of universal suffrage ... is part of our internal affairs. This is a matter for the HKSAR and the central authorities ... We hope and believe that foreign governments will continue to respect this principle.' The European statement also noted 'positively that a timetable has now been set with a clear prospect of implementation of universal suffrage for the [election of the] chief executive in 2017 and for the Legislative Council in 2020'. Anson Chan Fang On-sang said the statement showed that Europeans were sympathetic to people's disappointment over the National People's Congress Standing Committee veto of universal suffrage in 2012. 'I hope the chief executive doesn't feel that simply giving us a package for 2012 is the end of it,' Mrs Chan said. Civic Party lawmaker Alan Leong Kah-kit said he hoped Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen would take note of recognised principles of universal suffrage that ruled out retention of functional constituencies. 'What we want is genuine democracy, not universal suffrage as defined by Beijing or Donald Tsang Yam-kuen,' he said. Former Democratic Party chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming said 'the whole world applauded' the concept of 'one country, two systems' when the Joint Declaration on Hong Kong's future was signed in 1984. 'So they have a moral obligation to the Hong Kong people if things go wrong,' he said. 'This is the second time they ruled out early universal suffrage.' The government response cited a Chinese University poll - which found that more than 70 per cent of respondents 'accept the Standing Committee's decision' - as proof it was 'well received'.