Ukraine Pledges Further Involvement In NATO Peacekeeping Operations

MUNICH, Germany -- Ukraine will continue playing an active role in NATO-led peacekeeping operations, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko told the alliance's Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer at a meeting in Munich, the Ukrainian leader's press service reported on Saturday.

Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko (L) shakes hands with NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer at the Bayerischer Hof hotel during the 43rd Conference on Security Policy in Munich February 10, 2007

Late last year Ukraine finalized all legal formalities of its participation in NATO's Active Endeavor anti-terrorist operation, Yushchenko said.

Integration with Euro-Atlantic organizations is Ukraine's strategic objective, the president said.

Formulating a consolidated position of all of Ukraine's leading political forces regarding the pace at which relations with NATO should develop in the future is high on the country's agenda, he added.

Yushchenko expressed his gratitude to de Hoop Scheffer for NATO's assistance in disposing of Ukraine's excessive stockpiles of ammunition, light and small weapons, as well as mobile air defense missile systems.

The aid has been provided by the NATO/Partnership for Peace Trust Fund.

"I hope for your assistance in expanding the aforementioned aid by NATO and further efforts to dispose of ammunition and light weapons," the president said.

Yushchenko said that the Ukrainian government and he 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.

The 2007 budget earmarks five million hryvni for the efforts, he added.

Ukraine also appreciates NATO's readiness to contribute to these awareness raising campaigns, he said. "I am convinced that our joint efforts will help debunk all old myths and stereotypes regarding NATO in Ukraine," he said.

Yushchenko confirmed his invitation for the NATO secretary general to visit Ukraine in July.

Source: Interfax