Victor Yushchenko has met with the Donetsk region’s officials to discuss social and economic achievements of 2006 and plans for 2007, according to the President`s press-office.

The President said Donetsk was one of the country’s most powerful industrial regions but faced a few problems, which it "must resolve with courage and honesty.” 

The biggest of such challenges is changes in the coalmining industry, he said. Mr. Yushchenko urged the leaders to involve local professionals in reforming the sector.

“I am convinced there is no better place to find such meticulous professionals,” he said.

The President said the officials must also improve the region’s environment. Donetsk is one of the most polluted places in the country and has the highest rate of gas emissions, he added. He also said he was worried about the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS and other dangerous diseases.

Mr. Yushchenko and the regional leaders spoke about administrative reform, humanitarian and economic issues, and housing problems.

In his speech, Donetsk Governor Volodymyr Lohvynenko outlined steps the local government had taken last year to implement the President’s Annual Address to the Verkhovna Rada and program “Ten Steps for the People.” He was particularly proud of creating 100,000 new jobs and opening a few family orphanages. They also boosted local tourism in 2006. 

Deputy Secretariat Chief of Staff Viktor Bondar, Donetsk Council Chairman Anatoly Blyznyuk and Donetsk Mayor Oleksandr Lukyanchenko were present at the meeting.