MOSCOW, Russia -- Ukraine will join the Unified Economic Space of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan only on the conditions of the World Trade Organization, President Viktor Yanukovych said on Saturday.
"We have fallen far behind in this process [the creation of the economic space]," Yanukovych said in an interview with Russia's Vesti TV channel.
In December 2009, the presidents of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan agreed to create a single economic space by January 1, 2012. The Customs Union of the three countries started working on January 1, 2010.
"Moreover, Ukraine joined the WTO [in 2008] and now may join this space only on the WTO conditions. We wish our partners to join the WTO as soon as possible," Yanukovych said adding that Ukraine's entry to the Unified Economic Space remains relevant.
Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan intended to establish the Unified Economic Space back in 2003. The process stalled due to Ukraine's position that favored the creation of a free trade zone within the single space but did not want to join the Customs Union. When Viktor Yushchenko took office in 2005, the negotiations were suspended.