President of Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus, supported Ukraine's effort at integration with the EU and NATO in his meeting with his counterpart Viktor Yushchenko yesterday, and said he hopes the process will not be too long, Prague Daily Monitor reported.

Klaus and Yushchenko agreed on the need to sign an agreement removing problems legalizing the residency of Ukrainians seeking jobs in the Czech Republic, whose number Yushchenko put at 200,000.

"The Czech Republic takes note of and fully respects the ambitions of Ukraine to become part of the European and Euro-Atlantic structures as soon as possible. We would wish this process of knocking on the door of these institutions not to last too long," Klaus said.

He added that the Czech Republic is ready to help Ukraine on its path to fit the European structures. He gave Yushchenko a document with concrete proposals.

Klaus said his current visit to Ukraine is "a distinctive signal in support of the changes which are currently taking place in Ukraine."

"The Czech Republic appreciates what has happened in Ukraine, and it wishes strongly that this results in a happy future of all Ukrainians," Klaus said.

Yushchenko thanked Klaus for his active support of the democratic changes in Ukraine and said Czech experiences with EU entry are useful for his country.

Yushchenko told CTK that Ukraine would like to be admitted to the EU as soon as possible. He said that admission does not currently depend on Brussels' decision, but on how the Ukrainian government and parliament will be capable of pushing through the norms and standards necessary to become an EU member.

He praised the fact that since 1 May, when Ukraine introduced a visa-free regime for EU citizens, the number of visitors to his country has increased by 30 percent.

Yushchenko also thanked the Czech Republic for issuing transit and short-stay visas to Ukrainian citizens free of charge.

Klaus and Yushchenko signed a joint statement on their interest in promoting partnership relations.


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