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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

EU WANTS TO BOOST RELATIONS WITH UKRAINE, BUT IS COOL ON UKRAINIAN EU MEMBERSHIP. The EU pledged on 18 March to step up its economic and trade relations with Ukraine, but again said membership is not on offer for Kyiv, AP reported. Ukrainian Premier Viktor Yanukovych said after meeting with senior EU officials and foreign ministers on 18 March that Ukraine needs "a stronger message" from Brussels regarding future relations. Instead, EU officials elaborated on its "Wider Europe" strategy, which envisages stronger economic and political relations with countries that stand little chance of joining the union, such as Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, and South Caucasus countries (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 11 and 18 March 2003). The EU on 17 March signed a market-access agreement with Ukraine on farm products and on trade in services, bringing the country a step closer to membership of the World Trade Organization. AM

CHISINAU, TIRASPOL ENDORSE VORONIN INITIATIVES. Meeting in Chisinau on 19 March in a new round of negotiations, representatives of Moldova and Transdniester initialed a protocol establishing the mechanisms for implementing President Vladimir Voronin's proposal on the joint elaboration of a new constitution, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The three mediators -- the OSCE, Russia, and Ukraine -- also signed the document. The protocol is to be signed by the chairmen of the two parliaments by the end of March. It stipulates that a joint commission be set up to work on the new basic document. The commission should start work in early May, and the text of the new basic document should be finalized within six months, according to OSCE mission head William Hill, Flux reported. MS