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UKRAINIAN PREMIER REMAINS OPTIMISTIC ABOUT WTO ENTRY THIS YEAR... Ukrainian Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov said on 1 November during a two-day visit to Washington, D.C., that he expects Ukraine to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) by the end of 2005, Interfax reported. Yekhanurov described talks with U.S. officials regarding the signing of an agreement on opening commodity and service markets -- necessary for Ukraine's accession to the WTO -- as "considerably advanced." According to Yekhanurov, signing the WTO protocol with the United States will be a good sign to other countries, particularly Australia. The same day in Kyiv, the Verkhovna Rada passed two bills required for WTO entry pertaining to imports and protection of domestic producers. AM
...AND COOPERATION BETWEEN GOVERNMENT AND BUSINESS... Prime Minister Yekhanurov said in Washington on 1 November that the government and Ukrainian business leaders have agreed on the promotion of Ukrainian-made goods on world markets, Interfax reported. According to Yekhanurov, a Ukrainian "council of oligarchs" agreed during a recent meeting with President Viktor Yushchenko to hire foreign consulting firms in order to work out a business-development program for Ukraine to improve its international competitiveness. "We would really like them to become a national bourgeoisie and think about the development of our country," Yekhanurov said of the oligarchs. AM
...AS WELL AS ABOUT DEMOCRATIZATION OF BELARUS. Prime Minister Yekhanurov said in Washington on 1 November that he expects the 2006 presidential election in Belarus to be democratic, ITAR-TASS reported. "We want Belarus to be a peaceful neighbor," he said. Yekhanurov, who met with the Belarusian president on 18 October, described Alyaksandr Lukashenka as "a talented propagandist," unexpectedly adding, "Now I understand why women in the 1930s shouted, 'I want a baby from the Fuehrer!'" Yekhanurov also said he recently met with Belarusian opposition politician Stanislau Shushkevich and after this meeting he concluded that Ukraine can conduct a pragmatic dialogue with Belarus, including on the issue of democratization. AM