Ukraine’s drive for Europe evident, Yanukovich says

KIEV, August 20 (Itar-Tass) — Ukraine’s drive for integrating into Europe is evident, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich said.

In an article, “Twenty Years of Ukraine. Our Way is Just Beginning”, published in the Zerkalo Nedeli weekly on Saturday, Yanukovich said, “Despite the difficulties, the main step has been taken: we’ve finally decided on our future. Our drive for Europe is our foreign political priority. European values are the basis of our development.”

He expressed confidence that the Association Agreement and the creation of a free trade zone “are what Ukraine and the European Union need today”. “We hope that our partners will understand us,” the Ukrainian president added.

In his words, Ukraine is not easily want to be a European country. “This geographical fact does not require any proof. We want to join a big European project – to build a united Europe on the basis of freedom, democracy and law,” Yanukovich stressed.

He said fighting corruption was Ukraine’s priority. “Although not many like this, from now on there will be no immune persons. No offices and savings could shelter criminals from punishment.”

According to Yanukovich, the last 20 years were not easy for Ukraine: hard reality has destroyed hopes for quickly improving living standards and the country continues to overcome the Soviet heritage.

The president believes that Ukraine “needs modernisation of all spheres of public life”. “Further delay can lead to stagnation and a risk of slow death of the state. In order to avoid the tragedy we’ve embarked on the reform path,” he noted.

These years corruption has eroded the system of government and deprived Ukrainians of the opportunity to breathe freely. “The reform will help us overcome corruption that is Ukraine’s priority task,” the president stressed.

“We set high purposes. Ukraine should enter the club of world powers. We should allow Ukrainian businessmen to work freely. We are removing administrative barriers, which will prevent our citizens from feeling comfortable on their land,” Yanukovich said.

He recalled that Ukraine had changed tax and budget legislation. The country continues the administrative and pension reforms. A new code of criminal procedure “is under discussion”. “We are working out new serious actions. Ukraine has changed. Reforms will continue for the benefit of the Ukrainian people,” the president emphasised.

He stressed that the Ukrainian leadership would do its best to introduce visa-free travel with the European Union. “Our leadership will do everything possible to introduce visa-free travel with EU countries,” the Ukrainian president wrote.

At the same time, Yanukovich recalled that next year Ukraine and its strategic partner Poland would host Euro 2012. “This event will give one more chance to citizens of EU countries to travel to Ukraine. Ukrainians will be able to communicate to tourists and sport fans from EU countries,” the president said.

In his words, “Ukraine needs not only economic cooperation with the European Union. First of all the country needs the expansion of human contacts. The society and each citizen of the country need this.”

Yanukovich said he is hopeful, “Europe will understand Ukraine’s possibilities and restrictions and help its citizens exercise the right to free movement.”

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