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FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS ENERGY SECURITY IMPOSSIBLE WITHOUT RUSSIA. In response to discussions about energy security at the November 28-29 NATO summit in Riga, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in Moscow on November 29 that Russia must be included in any realistic planning in this sphere, Russian media reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," November 29, 2006). He argued that he "cannot dictate to NATO what to do there [at the meeting in Riga], but energy security, of course, is a matter that concerns all and should be discussed by taking into account the interests and approaches of all the key players." Lavrov added that he does not believe that "attempts to [deal with energy security] without Russia will be productive or serve the interests of that same energy security that we are all concerned about." The daily "Kommersant" wrote on November 29 that "for the first time, NATO leaders have gathered on the territory of the former Soviet Union, and for the first time since the collapse of the USSR, they are openly discussing potential threats emanating from Moscow." The paper added that the summit heralded a "qualitative transformation" of the alliance, which will soon begin to deal with energy as well as military security and eventually seek to include Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan as members. The daily "Vremya novostei" on November 29 drew attention, as did "Kommersant," to remarks made in Riga by U.S. Senator Richard Lugar (Republican, Indiana), who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in which he "called on NATO to be ready to resist 'attacks and blackmail' from countries such as Russia and Iran, using energy as a weapon." The paper quoted Aleksei Arbatov, who heads the International Security Center at the Russian Academy of Sciences' World Economy and International Relations Institute (IMEMO), as saying that "NATO ought to raise the question of admitting Russia as a full-fledged NATO member in order to solve the problems under discussion in Riga, including energy-security matters, rather than developing the topic of NATO membership for Georgia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan." PM

NATO SUMMIT OFFERS ENCOURAGEMENT, SETS OBJECTIVES FOR GEORGIA. The Declaration ( adopted at the conclusion of the November 28-29 NATO summit in Riga reaffirms the alliance's intention to continue the process of Intensified Dialogue with Georgia and Ukraine, stressing that doing so is no guarantee of eventual NATO membership. It commends Georgian participation in international peacekeeping operations in Kosova and Iraq, but stresses the need for further "progress on political, economic, and military reforms, including strengthening judicial reform," which is a weak point singled out by human rights watchdog Freedom House. It further expressed concern at the unresolved regional conflicts in both the South Caucasus and Moldova, and stressed the need to resolve those conflicts peacefully, affirming NATO's continued support for efforts aimed at doing so. The declaration noted "progress made in intensifying political dialogue and practical cooperation between NATO and Russia," but at the same time highlighted Russia's potential for delaying ratification of the Adapted CFE Treaty by failing to make good on its pledge to close its military bases in Georgia and withdraw its remaining forces from Moldova. Although some Georgian politicians, including parliament speaker Nino Burdjanadze, have construed statements of support for Georgia as heralding a formal invitation at the next (2008) summit to join the alliance (see "RFE/RL Newsline," November 29, 2006), the declaration implied that Albania, Croatia, and Macedonia, all of which have already advanced to fulfilling Membership Action Plans (the next step after Intensified Dialogue, and the final hurdle before a formal invitation) are more likely to qualify for NATO by then, assuming that they "meet NATO's performance based standards and are able to contribute to Euro-Atlantic security and stability." LF

UKRAINIAN PREMIER, FOREIGN MINISTER SPAR OVER U.S. TRIP. Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych clashed with Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk during a televised cabinet meeting on November 29 over Yanukovych's upcoming official visit to Washington, scheduled for December 3-7, Ukrainian and international news agencies reported. Yanukovych read out a letter from the Foreign Ministry informing him that his trip to Washington has been postponed indefinitely because he failed to seek presidential approval for a directive setting down guidelines for the U.S. talks. Yanukovych demonstratively signed the directive he distributed among cabinet ministers earlier the same day and ordered that it be sent to the Presidential Secretariat. "Regarding you, Borys Ivanovych, we have unfortunately failed to find an understanding how to work together over these three months. Therefore, today I'm going to sign an appropriate letter with my opinion about your further work and send it to parliament," Yanukovych told Tarasyuk. "Esteemed Viktor Fedorovych, you have already sent such a letter to the president. And you know the president's answer regarding my person," Tarasyuk responded to the prime minister. Earlier this month, Yanukovych said he does not want Tarasyuk in his cabinet (see "RFE/RL Newsline," November 3, 2006). Tarasyuk, like Defense Minister Anatoliy Hrytsenko, was appointed to his cabinet post directly by President Viktor Yushchenko. Later on November 29, the Presidential Secretariat announced that President Yushchenko approved Yanukovych's directive and that Yanukovych's U.S. trip will take place as originally planned. JM

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES MINISTER'S RESIGNATION. The Verkhovna Rada on November 29 endorsed the resignation of Family and Sports Minister Yuriy Pavlenko, Ukrainian media reported. Pavlenko tendered his resignation along with three other ministers from the pro-presidential Our Ukraine bloc in October, after Our Ukraine announced that it was switching to the opposition (see "RFE/RL Newsline," October 19, 2006). Justice Minister Roman Zvarych and Culture Minister Ihor Likhovyy were replaced earlier this month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," November 2, 2006), while Health Minister Yuriy Polyachenko has withdrawn his resignation. JM