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BRUSSELS CONFIRMS INTENTION TO BRING UKRAINE CLOSER TO EU. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso reiterated on September 21 that the commission will start a discussion early next year on a broader cooperation agreement with Ukraine that could include a free-trade deal, Ukrainian and international media reported. Barroso was speaking after talks with Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych in Brussels. "Our objective is to bring Ukraine closer to the European Union. Our objective is also to support political, institutional, and economic reforms in a way [that would] contribute to economic growth and the improvement of the living standards of Ukrainian citizens," Barroso said. "Mr. President [Barroso] and I agreed that Ukraine and the European Union should now take on the complex path of achieving the strategic goal of Ukraine joining the European Union," Yanukovych said at the same news conference. Moreover, Yanukovych reaffirmed to Brussels that Ukraine is not going to join a customs union with Russia within the framework of the Single Economic Space, which also includes Kazakhstan and Belarus. JM
UKRAINIAN PREMIER REFUSES TO IMPLEMENT PRESIDENTIAL DECREES. The Cabinet of Ministers has returned seven presidential decrees concerning the judicial sphere and the appointment and dismissal of ambassadors to the Presidential Secretariat, arguing that President Viktor Yushchenko violated the constitutional procedure for their publication, the "Ukrayinska pravda" website (http://www.pravda.com.ua) reported on September 21. According to Oleksandr Lavrynovych, deputy minister of the Cabinet of Ministers, Yushchenko made these decrees public without securing the countersignatures of Prime Minister Yanukovych and ministers responsible for their implementation, as stipulated by Article 106 of the Ukrainian Constitution. JM
UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT OVERRIDES PRESIDENTIAL VETO ON UTILITIES BILL. The Verkhovna Rada on September 22 rejected the presidential veto on a bill introducing a moratorium on utilities payment hikes in 2006, UNIAN reported. With at least 300 votes required to override a presidential veto, 344 lawmakers voted for the motion. JM