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    PRODI ON RUSSIA'S ACCESSION TO WTO

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    MOSCOW, April 23 (RIA Novosti) - Chairman of the European Commission Romano Prodi thinks it realistic that Russia will join the WTO before the end of 2004.

    Mr. Prodi said this when speaking today in Moscow on the EU's upcoming enlargement.

    We are continuing to work over the implementation of the realistic goal set by the Russian-EU summit in Rome, i.e. Russia's accession to the WTO before the end of 2004, he said.

    Some complicated issues remain unsolved but both sides have the political will to address them, he remarked.

    Russia's accession to the WTO is a key priority for our bilateral economic relations and for the WTO, said Mr. Prodi.

    How can this organization be named the World Trade Organization, if Russia is not its member? the chairman of the European Commission said.

    He noted that WTO membership would give a positive boost to Russia's economic reform.

    I'm happy that the intensive Russia-EU talks have started to yield fruit, said Mr. Prodi.

    Besides, he believes Russia and the EU should begin making practical steps towards a common economic zone.

    He recalled that the concept of the latter had been approved by the recent Russia-EU summit in Rome.

    We should pass over to practical efforts aimed at increasing mutual openness and harmonizing our economies, which includes the formation of compatible management standards, competition rules and rights to intellectual, industrial and commercial property, said Mr. Prodi.

    He also noted that Russia and the EU should develop the energy dialogue and promote pan-European transport, energy and communications networks.

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