The general election to be held in Ukraine next year will be the first serious challenge the country will face on its path towards democracy, the leaders of centre-right parties of the Visegrad Four (V4) and Ukrainian deputy prime minister Roman Bezsmertny agreed in Prague yesterday, PDM reported.

In their joint declaration, the representatives of V4, which comprises the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, supported Ukraine's effort to be integrated into Euro-Atlantic and European structures and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

"Ukraine's entry into the WTO and the EU must be supported. But there is no short path for Ukraine," Mirek Topolanek, chairman of the Czech opposition Civic Democratic Party (ODS), said.

Further participants in the meeting today were Pavol Kubovic, deputy chairman of the Slovak Christian and Democratic Union (SDKU), former Hungarian prime minister and Fidesz chairman Viktor Orban and Poland's Civic Platform leader Jan Rokita.

The declaration calls for support for a softer visa regime with Ukraine and the need to respect joint European values, among other matters.

The agreement on the Visegrad Four was signed in February 1991 in Visegrad, Hungary, with the aim of boosting central European cooperation.



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