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    RUSSIA NOT TO JOIN EU IN NEAR FUTURE

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    NOVO-OGAREVO, APRIL 3, 2004. (RIA NOVOSTI) - Russia doesn't aspire for full-fledged EU membership in the near future, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday evening, after meeting Germany's Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

    Talking about Russia EU interaction, Mr. Putin noted that Moscow was, as before, still concerned over some aspects of the EU expansion process. Our dialogue continues to develop constructively nowadays, Vladimir Putin added. We comprehend specific solutions perfectly well; as usual, this implies compromise solutions, the Russian head of state noted.

    We've never voiced any apprehensions in connection with the EU's expansion, Mr. Putin said. We used to discuss projected relations between Russia and an expanding Europe. As I see it, everyone understands this perfectly well. An expanded EU will account for more than 51 percent of Russia's entire trade turnover. All of us don't want new, i.e. virtual, Berlin walls to divide modern Europe, Mr. Putin added.

    For his own part, Gerhard Schroeder said that the EU could not demand that Russia liberalize its market in just a few years.

    It took Europe 50 years to accomplish this objective; meanwhile this process still remains to be completed, Mr. Schroeder reminded.

    We must find a compromise solution for Russia; at any rate, we must strive to attain this goal, Mr. Schroeder said.

    Should Russia join the World Trade Organization this year in line with acceptable terms, then this would match its own interests, Gerhard Schroeder added.

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