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Lawmaker: Ukraine could be both in Customs Union and EU

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Dec. 18, 2012, 9:56 a.m. | Politics — by Interfax-Ukraine

Ukraine could be a member of the Customs Union, formed by Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, and a member of a free trade area with the European Union at the same time, a Regions Party faction parliamentarian and deputy chairman of parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, Leonid Kozhara, told the Channel 5 television station.
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Ukraine could be a member of the Customs Union, formed by Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, and a member of a free trade area with the European Union at the same time, a Regions Party faction parliamentarian and deputy chairman of parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, Leonid Kozhara, told the Channel 5 television station.

"What is the difference between the Customs Union and a free trade area with the EU? The Customs Union is a supranational organization, which sets trading rules in a certain center. These rules are set by the union's board, not national agencies. A free trade area, is, in effect, a negotiating process that address each group of commodities, which means that it does not have any supranational dimension," Kozhara said.

"In theory, it is possible to be members of both organizations. If the Customs Union has an advanced trade area with the EU, in this case Ukraine could be a member of the Customs Union. There are no contradictions," he said.

Former Ukrainian Foreign Minister Volodymyr Ohryzko, for his part, said that accession to the Customs Union would be illegitimate.

"The law on the foundations of domestic and foreign policy clearly sets the goal of accession to the European Union. That is why all other processes could be illegal," Ohryzko said.

"A law is a formal barrier. And the president, acting even within his powers, cannot violate laws," he said.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych plans to discuss with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin measures to develop a mutually acceptable mechanism of Ukraine's cooperation with the Customs Union during a visit to Moscow on Tuesday.

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