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ukraine-related news stories from RFE

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT CRITICIZES EU'S NEIGHBORHOOD POLICY. The Ukraine-EU summit in The Hague on 8 July has failed to produce any political or economic agreements regarding mutual ties, Ukrainian and international media reported. In particular, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende did not make any promises about when the EU may grant Ukraine a market-economy status, which is a key step for Kyiv on its path to membership of the World Trade Organization. Moreover, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said the EU's European Neighborhood Policy does not suit Ukraine's interests and he refused to sign a prepared action plan for Ukraine within the policy's framework. Kuchma said in The Hague that the action plan should not be a simple systematization of the existing cooperation areas but should open up "realistic prospects for expanding four freedoms in Ukraine -- free movement of goods, services, capital, and people," Interfax reported. According to Kuchma, the action plan should include a list of specific measures to set up a free-trade zone between Ukraine and the EU, to gradually liberalize the visa process, to facilitate the employment and social protection of Ukrainian labor migrants, and to minimize the consequences of EU expansion in the areas of trade and the economy. JM

UKRAINIAN PREMIER PROMISES FAIR PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych told "The Washington Times" on 9 July that the presidential election in Ukraine this fall will be free and fair and added that he hopes the ballot will open the door to a new relationship with the West. "I've said before I don't need elections at any price," Yanukovych said. "We need to strictly keep to Ukrainian laws. The government will monitor the election and create all conditions for observers to be convinced of what is being done in Ukraine." JM

MORE COMPETITORS JOIN UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL RACE. The Central Election Commission has so far registered seven candidates for the 31 October presidential ballot, Ukrainian news agencies reported on 8 July. In addition to Viktor Yanukovych, Viktor Yushchenko, and Oleksandr Moroz (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 July 2004), Petro Symonenko, Natalya Vitrenko, Oleksandr Rzhavskyy, and Oleksandr Bazylyuk have joined the presidential race. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT VETOES LAW PROLONGING BAN ON LAND SALES UNTIL 2007. President Kuchma has vetoed a law on prolonging the moratorium on land trading until 1 January 2007, Ukrainian news agencies reported on 8 July. Last month, the Verkhovna Rada made changes to the Land Code, prolonging the ban on the buying and selling of agricultural land for citizens and legal entities until 1 January 2007. In accordance with the current Land Code, the moratorium ends on 1 January 2005. JM

CROATIA'S FIRST PRIVATE TELEVISION STATION SOLD. Central European Media Enterprises (CME), which was founded in 1994 by former U.S. diplomat and businessman Ronald Lauder, bought Zagreb-based TV Nova for $30 million on 8 July, Hina reported. Nova is Croatia's first private commercial broadcaster with a license to broadcast nationwide. CME already owns two television stations in Slovenia, three in Romania, and one each in Slovakia and Ukraine, with an estimated total of 70 million viewers, the news agency added. PM