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Ukraine To Join Moscow-Led Economic Project

President Yushchenko (file photo) 22 August 2005 -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko today said that his country will participate in a common economic pact with Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan.

Yushchenko told reporters in Kyiv that Ukraine will make some 10 proposals at a planned 26-27 August meeting designed to review the prospects of the Russian-led Single Economic Space (SES). The SES was set up in 2003, but does not yet exist. Yushchenko also said his country will simplify tax and fiscal policies in order to attract more international investment.

"Keeping in mind that both directions [East and West] are crucial for us, it is important to understand our priority -- we cannot accept circumstances under which the organization of our eastern policy would block or come into conflict with the principles of our policy towards the European Union."

Yushchenko's statement contradicts earlier remarks made by his economic minister.

Addressing journalists after talks in Moscow with Russia's Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref, Serhiy Teryokhin on 19 August ruled out Ukraine's participation in the project.

But Ukrainian Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko subsequently said Teryokhin's comments should be considered a mere "recommendation" and that the decision on whether Kyiv should call off its participation to the SES would be made "at the highest level."

("Ukrainska Pravda"/Interfax-Ukraina/ITAR-TASS/"Kommersant-Daily")

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