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Ukraine's Yuschenko gets less than wanted from EU

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Ukraine's Yuschenko gets less than wanted from EU

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Ukraine President Viktor Yushchenko has wrapped up a one-day a summit in Helsinki with senior EU officials without the result he had hoped for. The pro-western leader of Orange Revolution fame almost two years ago, had been seeking a date in 2008 for EU accession talks for his country to start.

No such timetable was discussed. But the two sides did agree to launch negotiations next year on a new economic and political cooperation agreement. They also signed a cross-border cooperation accord to ease visa requirements for Ukrainians and for the readmission of illegal migrants.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said a free-trade area was the first goal and ruled out talk of EU membership: “Ukraine still has reforms to do … and today in the European Union, the member states are not ready to assume new membership obligations.”

Barroso said during a news conference, however, that his comments should not be interpreted by Ukraine as a “negative signal.” “On the contrary, it is to encourage them to go ahead with their reforms,” he said. The European Union won assurances from Kiev on security of energy supplies crossing Ukraine from Russia. Yushchenko promised to keep fighting corruption, clean up the legal system, boost law enforcement and improve security of investments.