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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yushchenko Talks NATO in London

LONDON -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko said Monday that he hoped talks on possible NATO membership could begin next spring and said a free trade agreement with the European Union could be possible within a year to 15 months.

Yushchenko said he was still pushing for World Trade Organization membership by December and that his country was close to becoming a market economy.

"The heart of Europe is in Ukraine and Europe cannot live without its heart," Yushchenko said in a speech to the Chatham House institute in London.

The respected international think tank declared Yushchenko the winner of its inaugural annual prize for ensuring that last year's momentous political changes in Ukraine during the Orange Revolution did not trigger conflict within Europe. Queen Elizabeth II was due to present him with the award later Monday. Referring to the prize, Yushchenko said that "the courage and dignity of the Ukrainian nation deserves this kind of award."

Yushchenko was also due to hold talks with British Prime Minister Tony Blair about Ukraine's hopes for EU membership and a planned EU-Ukraine summit in Kiev in December. Britain holds the rotating EU presidency.