Victor Yushchenko has praised Ukraine’s armed forces for their growing professionalism at today’s Clear Sky 2006 military exercise in Mykolayiv region, President's press office reported.

The President said such exercises were important to maintain the country’s defense capability and thereby one of the fundamentals of our defense policy.

He insisted that Ukraine must follow the “well-balanced, effective and consistent foreign course” stipulated by the Law on the Fundamentals of Ukraine’s National Security. He claimed this law “emphasizes the necessity to harmonize the nation’s defense and security policies with Europe’s collective security policy” and added that the exercise was conducted "in the context  of such cooperation with the European colleagues." 

The Head of State said, as Ukraine’s commander in chief, he was happy to learn that the armed forces were considerably better trained than a year ago. He characterized the the exercise as one of the manifestations of the army's growing professionalism.

“I would like all the soldiers to hear me: Ukraine needs them; they should be professional and willing to protect national interests,” he said.

Yushchenko said the country would annually reduce its army by 20,000 soldiers but vowed to provide Ukraine’s dismissed officers with jobs. 

“I want the army to accept this policy honestly, openly and with trust. We need this reduction but the officers should know they are not forgotten and that the state appreciates their military life, and so will not leave you face to face with this challenge,” he said.

The Head of State said he enjoyed the exercise. Then he gave presents to its best participants. He said Ukraine pinned hopes on the army.  


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