PUTIN SETS TIMEFRAME FOR SIGNING FIRST COMMON ECONOMIC SPACE DOCUMENTS

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YALTA (Ukraine), May 24 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Vladimir Putin believes that the first package of documents on the common economic space might be signed in 2005-early 2006. The Russian president said this at a press conference in Yalta following the common economic space summit.

"Yesterday our colleagues coordinated the list of priority draft agreements to be harmonised this year. I think that in 2005-early 2006, we will be able to sign the first package of these documents and begin to work within the common economic space," said Vladimir Putin.

In his words, leaders of the common economic space countries spent 90% of the time discussing what documents should be first of all adopted within the common economic space.

"We have come to the conclusion that some things are a priority for Ukraine, some for Kazakhstan, some for Belarus, and others arouse particular interest in Russia; this is why our experts singled out a group of draft agreements - 61 of them," said Vladimir Putin.

"We have instructed experts to single out something which is most important out of these 61 projects, and if they succeed in it, we will learn about it at the next common economic space summit in Astana," said the Russian president.

"Unlike the current constitution, agreements can be adopted separately, and can be combined into a code," said Mr. Putin. The main thing is that "all these agreements be the norms of direct action." Vladimir Putin stated that nobody was going to breed unnecessary administrative structures within the common economic space.

"We only plan to set up one regulating body," he said.

According to Mr. Putin, there is no contradiction between WTO membership and participation in regional organisations.

"There are several ways of solving this problem," said the Russian President.

In his words, each country can regulate its issues with the WTO on its own and then coordinate them with the regional organisation it belongs to, or the entire organisation can work out common principles and join the WTO.

The Russian head of state noted that all these ways were used in the world. "All the EU nations are WTO members, and the EU itself is a WTO member," said Mr. Putin.

In his opinion, the four countries have a privileged position because they can co-ordinate their positions on the WTO in the beginning of the common economic space formation.

"And we will do it, in no violation of the rules of negotiations with the WTO," said the Russian president.

"The formation of the common economic space does not prevent us from participating in international and European integration processes," said the Russian president. "We are talking about making our economies more competitive on the world market." "At the same time, if we participate in international processes, we will do it from certain positions that our countries and peoples deserve," said the Russian president.

Vladimir Putin noted that Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus were not joining any organisation, but forming a common economic space together.

In his words, the conclusion that somebody is forced to join some regional organisation is erroneous.

Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said at a press conference summing up the Yalta forum that the next summit was not due at the end of the year as experts of the high-level group had suggested but on September 15 in Astana.

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