EU wants 'political stability' in Ukraine before closer ties
Elitsa Vucheva, EUOBSERVER
Ukraine needs to show political stability, as well as more political and economic reforms, in order for the country to win closer relations with the EU, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said on Monday (28 January).
"To achieve progress, we need political stability, we need a Ukraine that is really committed to political and economic reforms," he said after meeting Ukraine's new prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko.
"We are confident that political stability can become a reality in Ukraine," he added.
Ms Tymoshenko is on a two-day visit to Brussels aiming to foster greater ties with the 27-member bloc.
Ukraine is currently part of the EU's neighbourhood policy, a tool designed to offer EU neighbours closer - or privileged - cooperation with the bloc, but that does not guarantee eventual EU membership.
But Kiev has been calling for closer relations with the EU for years, making it clear it wants to be considered a future member of the bloc.
"We are historically a European country, and although we have wasted some time, and not always done our homework, this new government will do its best to make up for lost time," Ms Tymoshenko told MEPs later on Monday.
But the EU has so far not gone further than promising Ukraine closer political cooperation and a future free trade agreement.
Discussions on trade issues are expected to start soon, now that it has been announced that the country is to join the World Trade Organisation (WTO) next month.
Kiev's candidacy will be put to the WTO's General Council meeting on 5 February and then followed by a six-month ratification process, according to news agency AFP.
President of the United States George Bush hailed Georgian and Ukrainian democracy in his last annual speech delivered to Senate yesterday. Bush summed up internal policy in the country and akcnowleged that the economy was slowing but insisted its long-term fundamentals were sound.
Bush also summed up the last seven years of his presidency and spoke about the changes all over the world. The greatest part of his speech was about the fight against terrorism, Iraq, Iran and Middle East problems.