Integration with the European Union is a strategic direction for Ukraine, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said after talks with German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Monday, UKRINFORM reported.

The head of state described work on drafting an association agreement between Ukraine and the EU as "successful". Yanukovych noted that prospects for Ukraine's membership of the European Union should be secured in the document. "Membership of the EU is not an end in itself. We understand that we still need to do a lot of homework, but the prospect of membership of this community is very important for the Ukrainian people," Yanukovych said.

He said that his visit to Berlin was opening a new stage in relations between Ukraine and Germany, which will be based on concrete decisions regarding cooperation in many spheres.

Merkel, in turn, said that the relations between Kyiv and Berlin were "on a solid foundation and they will be stepped up." At the same time, she said that Berlin was interested in Ukraine's further democratization, including in the development of freedom of speech in Ukraine. "If the problems in this area happen in future, we need to speak about this openly," she said.

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