Schroeder refuses to set datefor Ukraine EU membership

9th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

9 March 2005 , BERLIN - Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko on Wednesday called for his country to be given swift membership in the European Union during a state visit to Germany. "I see Ukraine in a unified Europe in the not too distant future," said a clearly upbeat Yushchenko in a rare address by a foreign head of state to the German Parliament. Yushchenko said his "roadmap" for European Union (EU) membership saw Kiev being granted associate status in 2007. After this date, negotiations for full membe

9 March 2005

BERLIN - Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko on Wednesday called for his country to be given swift membership in the European Union during a state visit to Germany.

"I see Ukraine in a unified Europe in the not too distant future," said a clearly upbeat Yushchenko in a rare address by a foreign head of state to the German Parliament.

Yushchenko said his "roadmap" for European Union (EU) membership saw Kiev being granted associate status in 2007. After this date, negotiations for full membership should begin, he added.

The Ukrainian leader predicts his country will enter the EU as a full member well before 2016 - a view which many in Brussels view with some scepticism.

At an earlier briefing with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Yushchenko set out another milestone in his timetable by saying he "assumed" the 25-nation EU would formally declare the Ukraine a "market economy" this year - a key step on the path to accession.

He also predicted Kiev would be admitted to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) by the end of 2005.

Chancellor Schroeder pointedly refused to set any timetable for Ukrainian EU membership and said this was up to the European Commission.

"It would be totally wrong to agree a date in bilateral talks," said Schroeder after being asked by reporters if he had given Yushchenko a concrete EU target date.

Instead, Schroeder pledged to support Kiev's moves toward what he more vaguely termed "the Euro-Atlantic structures."

Yushchenko, whose reformist government came to power on the wave his country's Orange Revolution last year, insisted that EU membership had been a core demand of demonstrators in Kiev.

But he stressed Ukraine's bid to join the EU and NATO was not aimed at Russia which had initially opposed him.

"Russia is the eternal strategic partner of Ukraine," vowed Yushchenko.

Earlier, Chancellor Schroeder announced the creation of a high- level group with officials from the German and Ukrainian economics ministries to target key bilateral projects in order to expand trade relations.

Germany wanted a new dynamic in ties with Ukraine, said Schroeder, who was quick to add, however, that upgrading relations was "not aimed at anybody" - a clear reference to his close political ally Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Yushchenko said a German trade and energy delegation was due in Kiev in two weeks with the aim of expanding economic ties between both nations. The current total volume of bilateral trade is worth about EUR four billion, he said.

"Germany is partner number one for Ukraine in Europe," said Yushchenko.

Gas and oil pipelines to Europe could be a major contribution to European energy security, said Yushchenko

Turning to other security issues, Yushchenko said he had asked Schroeder for aid to help secure Ukraine's border with Transdniester - a narrow sliver of land between Moldova and Ukraine.

Transdniester broke away from Moldova in 1990 over fears the then still Soviet republic would seek reunification with neighbouring Romania.

Moldova and Transdniester fought a brief war in 1992 which was ended after Russia organised a truce. No country recognizes the self- styled Transdniester Republic but Russia still keeps several thousand troops stationed there.

Yushchenko warned that Transdniester remained a "flash point".

"It creates security problems not just in our region but throughout Europe," he said.

Addressing a scandal involving Germany's liberalisation of visa requirements for Ukrainians which threatens to engulf Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, Yushchenko pleaded pleaded for Berlin and the EU keep an open visa policy, especially for students.

"The Ukrainian people ... are not tarnished by corruption," he said.

Fischer is facing a parliamentary probe over the granting of visas to hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians which apparently led to many illegal workers and prostitutes entering Germany and travelling on to countries in the EU's Schengen group which has abolished all border controls.

Seeking to defuse the issue, Parliamentary President Wolfgang Thierse won applause in his introduction of Yushchenko by stressing that Ukrainians were not seen potential criminals and were welcome guests in Germany. 

DPA

Subject: German news

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