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Ukraine may join Customs Union as full member -- Security Council secretary

February 27, 2012, 23:49 UTC+3

Yanukovich stressed, “We want to look into the future consciously and intelligently”

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BRUSSELS, February 27 (Itar-Tass) —— Ukraine may join the Customs Union of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus as its full member, Ukrainian Security Council Secretary Andrei Klyuyev said.

“I want to confirm, one more time our intention to develop cooperation with the Customs Union in the ‘3+1’ format. This format does not rule out full membership of our state in this association,” Klyuyev said at a EU-Ukraine conference in Brussels on Monday, February 27.

He quoted European experts as saying that this will not run counter to Ukraine’s plans for deeper integration with the European Union.

Ukraine and the Customs Union countries are engaged in a normal and respectful dialogue, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich said earlier.

“There is no conflict between us. We are engaged in dialogue,” he said.

The president said, “Ukraine is a WTO member, while Russia and Kazakhstan are in the process of accession to this international organisation. As soon as they enter the WTO and the Customs Union has its rules in place and working, we will look at its effectiveness.”

“If the Customs Union meets [our] national interests, we will decide then,” he added.

Yanukovich stressed, “We want to look into the future consciously and intelligently”.

He is confident that Ukraine “has time and no one is hurrying us”.

The head of state noted normal relations “between our countries, which we build with respect for each other”.

Yanukovich proposed “3+1” participation in Customs Union for Ukraine.

“We are working on these documents [on Ukraine's access to the Customs Union by the ‘3+1’ formula] practically every day. Work is now underway at the level of authorised representatives of the governments of Russia and Ukraine. And our president will discuss them with the president of Russia tomorrow,” Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov said.

According to the prime minister, the “3+1” formula can be filled with real substance. “We have an interest in a number of agreements that have already been formed in the Customs Union, and we are working on these agreements right now,” he said.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said earlier that Ukraine's cannot be a member of the Customs Union and a free trade zone with the European Union at the same time.

It is impossible to join the Customs Union and at the same time have all-embracing free trade zone with the EU, Barroso said at a briefing after talks with Yanukovich last year.

At the same time, he does not rule out some instruments for cooperation between Ukraine and the Customs Union created by Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

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