In Bila Tserkva, Victor Yushchenko visited the 72th Separate Mechanized Brigade of the Eighth Army Corps of the Land Forces of Ukraine. The President met with servicemen to personally congratulate them on Day of the Armed Forces.

During the meeting, the Head of State stressed that 2006 would be a year of changes in the armed forces, the President press office.

“For the first time in the past fifteen years, the Ukrainian army will get eight billion budget hryvnyas,” he pledged.

Yushchenko added that they were going to spend UAH 622 million to build houses for army officers. Almost UAH 500 million will be spent on medical service. In addition to that, the government will triple funds to purchase weapons and equipment.

Speaking about military reforms, the Head of State said, “All armies depend on people rather than on weapons. The reform is focused on material, financial and social provision of servicemen.”

He reiterated that several things had already been done. They made the term of military service shorter, increased the number of contract officers to 38,000, and raised social payments. The President said they aimed to create a professional army and to optimize the structure of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

After his speech, Yushchenko gave should-straps to seven servicemen that had recently beenconferred the rank of officer. Then he studied the history of the brigade, inspected its barracks and spoke with young soldiers.The Head of Statepresented them with a pot of honeyfrom his private apiary.


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