Secretary General of the EU Council, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana arrives in Ukraine Thursday. His visiting agenda provides for his meeting with President Viktor Yushchenko to discuss Ukraine - EU relations and drafting a new cooperation agreement.

On the eve of his visit to Kyiv, Javier Solana was interviewed by Ukrainian journalists in Brussels, "Cabinet's press office" reported.

Q. What is the main purpose of your visit to Ukraine?

A. I should confess that Ukraine and its development occupy a special place in my heart. Ukraine is an important European nation, its development will influence the future, the welfare of the whole continent. The European Union is closely connected with Ukraine, our ties deepen more and more. This is the context determining the purpose of my visit to Kyiv.

Q. The situation in Ukraine is quite complicated, some experts say about "governmental crisis". What is your assessment of the situation? What recommendations could you give to Ukrainian politicians?

A. Sure, Ukraine should find its own way of development. All of us were impressed with the free and just elections in 2006. At the same time we had certain concerns about the long coalition talks into Govt forming. At last the Government has been formed, being supported by the majority in the parliament.

Now, we really see certain discrepancies between key political forces and players. This is normal process in a democratic state. In my opinion, it is important for Ukraine that the Government, able to implement reforms and reach progress in implementation of the Ukraine - EU Action plan, function.

Q. Ukraine and the European Union have launched drafting a new enforced agreement to change the existent Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, which expires in 2008. If not take time limits, but consider the EU political perspective and article 49 of the Amsterdam Treaty, can this document contain a provision about likelihood of Ukraine's future membership in the EU?

A. As I have many times said earlier: relations between the EU and Ukraine are based on concrete achievements and much depend on the quality of the Ukrainian democracy and reforms. Our relationships are evolutional in their nature. We have great potential and we may go far ahead in development of our relations, how far? This is not a question of the agenda. Now we should move forward in realization of our joint goals.

The new agreement should contain a provision on creating a deep and comprehensive area of free trade, which would enable bringing our economic integration to higher level. At the same time, negotiations on the free trade area can start only after Ukraine joins the WTO. Thus, we have many challenges to focus on. In far perspective new realities will create new opportunities.

Q. What problems, do you think, exist in Ukraine - EU relations?

A. We have joint challenges and opportunities. Among these let me concentrate on your efforts in settling the Transdniestrian conflict. This is a real challenge for our ability to cooperate basing on common values. We are also thankful for Ukraine's cooperation with the EU Border Assistance Mission in Moldova and Ukraine. Efforts by Ukraine, which assists Moldova in creating the integral custom space, are profitable for Moldovan business, including those in Transdniestria. This is a bright example of fulfillment of your commitments.

It is naturally that energy is a challenge for everybody in Europe. In that sphere Ukraine plays a key role. The Memorandum of understanding in energy between Ukraine and the European Commission was signed in Kyiv in December 2005 during the Ukraine - EU Summit. One of most important issues, which might secure fruitful energy cooperation, is transparency. The EU also fully supports Ukraine's efforts in enhancing energy efficiency.

Q. What is your reaction on the conflict between Russia and Georgia?

A. I'm sorry for the tense escalation between these two neighbor nations. The European Union urged the two sides to be tolerant and expressed the hope for resuming the direct dialogue between Russia and Georgia. The EU has proposed its assistance to this end. We are sure concerned about Russia's measures against Georgians in Russia and likely consequences of the situation for the population of Georgia. I hope the two sides will make steps to settle the conflict. The European Union wants to develop relations with both, Russia and Georgia. We see no contradictions between these aspirations and good relationships between Russia and Georgia.


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