EU Wants To Deepen Cooperation With Ukraine
( RFE/RL ) - EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana says the European Union would like to continue discussions with the leaders of Ukraine in order to deepen ties with the country.
Solana spoke to RFE/RL Ukrainian Service correspondent Natalia Vikulina in Brussels on the eve of an EU-Ukraine meeting in Kyiv on September 14.
"For us, this summit is important," Solana said, "because Ukraine is a very important partner, and we want to deepen our relationship with your country."
The annual meeting, to be attended by senior EU officials and rivals Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, is expected to focus on the terms of a new cooperation agreement.
Solana said there were still elements of the relationship that are open for discussion -- for instance trade, which he said partly depends on Ukraine's expected accession to the World Trade Organization.
Enthusiasm for further enlargement is currently at a low in the EU.
At a meeting bringing together the members of the EU's European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) in early September, the focus was on economic integration, energy cooperation, and increased travel and work opportunities, rather than prospects for membership. Ukraine has objected to involvement in the ENP, saying it seeks full-fledged membership in the EU.
Ukraine's ambassador to the EU, Roman Shpek, has said that the bloc's flagship foreign policy instrument remains "inadequate" for his country.
Solana also said that he has no doubt that Ukraine's upcoming elections will be free and fair. Ukrainians will vote in preterm elections on September 30. The elections were called after a standoff between the president and parliament earlier this year.