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Official website of the President of Russia

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Opening Remarks at a Meeting with the Deputy Prime Ministers of Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Russia and Belarus

April 16, 2003, The Kremlin, Moscow

Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon,

I am happy to see you in Moscow today. As you know, the Presidents of the four states made a decision on February 23. They declared the need to move into a new stage of integration and to lend that process a new quality.

I am glad to note that the High Level Group, which you head, is making progress in this work. The draft concept of the new economic space has been prepared and there is an awareness of how the goals we have set ourselves can be achieved. Clearly, there are many complexities down the road, including the coordination of our positions regarding the accession of our countries to the World Trade Organisation. I would like to express the hope that in the course of your work and under your guidance all these issues will be closed and that in Minsk you will enter a new stage of your joint efforts and clear a new and higher bar. Your next meeting is due to be held in Minsk. So I wish you all the best and I wish you success in moving along this important path.

That is all I wanted to say in the beginning. If you would like to share with me your ideas and results that you have achieved during your work in Moscow let us do so. And I will try to contribute to your discussion.

Thank you.

April 16, 2003, The Kremlin, Moscow