Ukraine has been given a morale-boost at talks with senior European Union officials in Paris, but no pledge was offered for membership of the bloc.
French President and current head of the EU Council Nicolas Sarkozy said a joint text agreed with President Viktor Yushchenko acknowledged Ukraineâ€™s European aspirations and status as a European country.
Sarkozy said: â€œThe future accord between the EU and Ukraine will be an â€œassociation agreementâ€. This is a very important point, and it corresponds with Ukraineâ€™s wishes. Ukraine and the countries of the EU share a common history and values.â€
In a more subdued tone, Yushchenko said: â€œWe are convinced that in 2009 we will sign a very symbolic document cementing relations between Ukraine and the EU.â€
The parties also agreed to launch a dialogue towards an eventual EU visa-free regime for Ukrainians.
The term â€œassociation agreementâ€ can imply the possibility of future membership in the EU but does not make it automatic.