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Brussels, 9 November 2000

President Prodi visits Ukraine

President of the European Commission Romano Prodi will visit Ukraine from 9-10 November 2000. He will meet with President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma, Prime Minister Victor Yushchenko, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Anatoly Zlenko. He will also meet leading figures of the Ukrainian parliament. This visit is the third high level meeting with Ukraine this year. President Prodi met Ukrainian Prime Minister Yushchenko in Brussels on 23 May this year, immediately after the EU-Ukraine Cooperation Council (which was chaired on the EU side by Foreign Minister Gama and Commissioner Patten). Then on 15 September President Prodi and French President Mr Chirac met Ukrainian President Mr Kuchma at the EU Ukraine summit in Paris.

These meetings take place within the framework of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and Ukraine. This agreement came into force in March 1998, and has seen a steady strengthening in relations between the EU and Ukraine. Ukraine was also the subject of the EU's second "Common Strategy" adopted at the Helsinki European Council in December 1999, which underlined Ukraine's position as a strategic partner of the European Union.

The main issues to be discussed during the visit are the development of EU-Ukraine relations, energy issues, especially closure of Chornobyl, Ukraine' s progress on economic reform, and the impact of EU enlargement on Ukraine. President Prodi will express his support for the reforms underway, but call for these to be accelerated.

President Prodi will express the EU's satisfaction with President Kuchma's decision to close Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant definitively on 15 December 2000. He will reaffirm the support of the EU for this decision. A total of 340 million EURO have already been earmarked to assist with closure of Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant and related issues, including a significant contribution of 191 million EURO for the completion of the new sarcophagus around the damaged Reactor Number 4. Further assistance is being prepared to assist Ukraine with replacement energy generating capacity after Chornobyl closure. Assistance in the nuclear field is not limited to Chornobyl related activities: the EC has also provided approximately 170 million EURO to improve nuclear safety level in Ukraine.

The EU is a major donor to Ukraine. The EC has given more than 900 million in technical assistance through the Tacis programme. In addition, the EC has provided assistance through loans of 565 million EURO and 14 million EURO in grants for humanitarian aid.

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