Victor Yushchenko’s talks with participants of today’s Ukraine-EU (Troika) meeting focused on when to start negotiations to sign a new agreement between Ukraine and the European Union, Deputy Secretariat Chief of Staff Oleksandr Chalyy told a press conference on Tuesday, according to the President`s press-office.

“The two sides confirmed they were ready to start the talks, whose first round is scheduled for March,” he said.

“We expect the talks to end by 2008 if there are no obstacles and if Ukraine joins the World Trade Organization in the middle of this year,” he added.

“We want political association with the European Union and enhanced security and defense cooperation. Political association and economic integration will be our key demands during the talks.” 

Mr. Chalyy said the President and the EU representatives had exchanged views on possible provisions of the agreement.

“The President said the key priority of the economic part would be a free trade agreement between Ukraine and the EU, as well as agreements to enhance cooperation in some sectors,” he said.

They also spoke about regional and European issues, he added. 

Mr. Chalyy expressed hopes the talks would help both Ukraine and the European “build closer ties” and “find compromises which will not close the EU doors before Ukraine and be a lighthouse of hope to fulfill our European aspirations.”