Victor Yushchenko has met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel for talks in Berlin, according to the President`s press-office.

The two leaders spoke about regional and European issues, especially how to build closer ties between Ukraine and the European Union.

Mr. Yushchenko said at a joint press conference after the talks, “There is no doubt Ukraine will be a member of the European Union, but we understand that this ambition is not immediate. [...] Our priorities are economic association and political integration into European structures.” 

He expressed hopes a new agreement with the EU would “determine Ukraine’s goals and aspirations in its dialogue with the European Union.” Ms. Merkel said the document would “support Ukraine’s desire for reforms” and confirmed her intention to visit our country this fall to attend a Ukraine-EU summit. 

The Chancellor said Ukraine and the European Union must first of all create conditions to liberalize visa procedures, launch scientific and cultural exchange programs and sign a free trade agreement.

“We will start with simple things like visas and will then proceed to signing a free trade agreement,” she explained. 

Mr. Yushchenko and Ms. Merkel agreed to formulate new energy policies ensuring that European consumers receive their energy transparently and on time. The Ukrainian leader said Ukraine was aware of its significant role in Europe’s energy security and would thus adhere to the European Energy Charter to fulfill its obligations. Ms. Merkel said today’s meeting reassured her “Ukraine is ready to take responsibility for transporting energy to Europe.”

Discussing Ukraine’s politics, they agreed there should be no power struggle but reforms ensuring the country’s development, as they help improve Ukraine’s positive image worldwide. 

The President said Ukraine was now “following the path of democracy, promoting traditions of national dialogue.”

“I want the West, Germany in particular, to hear us, see realities of how Ukraine’s government functions and make no tragedies about what is going on now,” he said.

Mr. Yushchenko said Verkhovna Rada Speaker Oleksandr Moroz, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych and Economy Minister Volodymyr Makukha were going to visit Germany in 2007.

The President and the Chancellor also agreed to develop cooperation between central and local governments of the two countries.