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UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT URGES CONSIDERATION FOR ENERGY-TRANSIT COUNTRIES... Viktor Yushchenko said at the Munich Conference on Security Policy on February 10 that Europe needs to take into account the interests of the countries that serve as transit routes for Europe-bound energy supplies, Interfax-Ukraine reported. "[These countries] should be equal partners within a predictably reliable, economically effective, and environmentally favorable mechanism for ensuring the energy security of the European continent," Yushchenko noted. Yushchenko recalled that Ukraine transported 45 million tons of oil and 129 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Europe in 2006. He added that these volumes could and should be increased, but only if Ukraine's partners in Europe show their interest in new projects, including the transportation of oil from the Caspian region and Central Asian countries. JM
...AND PROMISES AWARENESS-RAISING CAMPAIGN TO PROMOTE NATO BID. President Yushchenko said during a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer at the Munich Conference on Security Policy on February 10 that Ukraine will continue playing an active role in NATO-led peacekeeping operations, Interfax-Ukraine reported. Yushchenko assured de Hoop Scheffer that NATO membership remains Ukraine's strategic objective. Yushchenko pledged that the Ukrainian government and he personally will continue giving special attention to impartial and politics-free awareness-raising campaigns addressing NATO's activities and Ukraine's integration with Euro-Atlantic organizations. He added that the 2007 budget earmarks 5 million hryvnyas ($1 million) for these efforts. Yushchenko said Ukraine appreciates NATO's readiness to contribute to such campaigns. "I am convinced that our joint efforts will help debunk all old myths and stereotypes regarding NATO in Ukraine," he noted. JM