Ukraine will participate in the Common Economic Space (CES), a trade pact with Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, President Viktor Yushchenko told reporters on Monday.

Yushchenko made this statement three days after Economy Minister Serhiy Teriokhin said during a visit to Moscow that Ukraine intended to pull out of the pact and build its economic ties with Russia and two other ex-Soviet republics on a bilateral basis.

Yushchenko stressed that Ukraine, while securing its interests in the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) through special mechanisms, including the framework of the CES, should establish a western-oriented mechanism so as to fulfill its aspiration for integration with the European Union (EU).
The president said Ukraine plans to take part in the CES, but its participation must not hamper its aspiration of joining the EU. Meanwhile, it was also very important for Ukraine to strengthen its ties with other countries, he added.

Therefore, he said, Ukraine will still attend the upcoming CIS summit to discuss the project of the CES. Ukraine will put forward 10 proposals on some most pressing issues of the CIS during the summit.

In September 2003, Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus officially signed the agreement on the CES in Yalta, a coastal city in southern Ukraine. Yushchenko's predecessor, Leonid Kuchma, used to actively promote the establishment of the CES.

After Yushchenko took office in January 2005, however, the new pro-Western administration has become increasingly lukewarm about the project because of concerns that the participation would hurt Ukraine's EU aspirations.

The annual CIS summit of 12 former Soviet republics is scheduled for August 26-27 this year in the Russian city of Kazan.

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