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Ukraine: Agreement Reached With EU On WTO Priority

Kyiv, 9 January 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Ukraine and the European Union today agreed on making Ukraine's accession to the World Trade Organization a joint priority. A statement released today by the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said that Foreign Minister Anatoliy Zlenko and European Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten discussed in a telephone conversation the revitalization of overall relations and agreed to work on Ukraine's bid for membership in the WTO.

Both the European Union and the United States are currently considering whether to grant Ukraine market-economy status.

Today's agreement indicates an improvement in relations between Ukraine and the West. Relations between the two have been poor recently following criticisms of Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma's media policies and alleged sales of radar systems to Iraq in defiance of United Nations sanctions.

Ukraine has hopes of entering the WTO by the end of the year and of becoming an associate member of the EU within 10 years.