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Ukraine president urges setting up free trade zone with Hungary

Portfolio (Hungary) | 14 September 2006

Ukraine president urges setting up free trade zone with Hungary

Ukraine’s President, Viktor Yushchenko has called for the creation of a free trade zone between his country and Hungary, Russian news and information agency Novosty reported.

"We need to set out a policy for a swift transition to a free trade regime," Yushchenko was quoted as saying at a meeting with Hungarian parliamentary speaker Katalin Szili on Wednesday, where they discussed bilateral relations in the context of Ukraine’s aspirations to European integration.

Ukraine has been seeking EU membership since Yushchenko came to power following a popular uprising in 2004. The country is now implementing a three-year action plan to bring its standards closer to European norms, the President said.

Simultaneously, the country is working to establish a free trade zone with the EU and sign an associated membership agreement as early as in 2007, which will later allow it to seek permanent membership in the union.

"We understand this is not an easy road, and we need partners here," the presidential press office quoted Yushchenko as saying.

Szili said Hungary, which joined the EU in 2004, would back the signing of a new agreement between the EU and Ukraine in 2007, which will confer associate membership in the 25-nation union on the former Soviet republic.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk said late last year that Ukraine could join the EU by 2015.

Ukraine is also looking to join the World Trade Organization and NATO, objectives Yushchenko declared in early 2005 to be foreign policy priorities for the country.

Yushchenko is expected to visit Hungary early next year.

 source: Portfolio