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Ukraine to apply for EU membership in 2020

Signaling his intent to move Ukraine even further away from Russian influence, President Poroshenko has announced plans to apply for EU membership in 6 years. In the meantime, he plans to implement a series of reforms.

Ukraine intends to apply for membership in the European Union in 2020, President Petro Poroshenko announced.

Poroshenko said his country would apply for EU membership after implementing over the next several years a series of economic and political reforms that are part of his "Strategy 2020" plan.

"I will present my vision of Ukraine's development, our strategy for the period up to 2020," Poroshenko told a group of Ukrainian judges Thursday. "[The strategy] provides for 60 separate reforms and special programs, which will prepare Ukraine for applying for membership in the European Union in six years time," he said.

Ukraine has taken steps recently to forge stronger European ties in spite of fierce opposition from Russia, which is loathe to see Ukraine slip out of its sphere of influence.

Earlier this month, Ukraine and the European Union ratified an important economic association agreement. Former Russia-friendly President Viktor Yanukovich's refusal to sign this agreement last year precipitated weeks of violent protests and led to his ouster.

Meanwhile, a ceasefire in the conflict between the Ukrainian military and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine appears to be holding as no Ukranian soldiers have been hurt within the last 24 hours, Poroshenko said.

Over 3,500 people have been killed in the conflict since fighting broke out last Spring, according to the UN.

bw/mg (Reuters, dpa, AFP)

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