Victor Yushchenko has discussed border cooperation which governors of Ukraine’s regions bordering on the European Union, according to the President`s press-office.

      In a speech to open the meeting, he said border cooperation was vital “to achieve national goals and fulfill national interests,” adding that it helped Ukraine’s western border regions to attract investment, introduce new technologies and create new jobs, and facilitated cultural exchange.

      The President said participation in EU projects was our top priority, describing relations between the border regions and European partners as a “key level to resolve economic, humanitarian, social cultural, and other problems.”

      “Do we have projects to develop this cooperation? I think we have an empty portfolio. We know little about our neighbors. We do not know their advantages and have no means to attract them,” he complained.

      Mr. Yushchenko said it was particularly important to develop regional infrastructure and attract investment.

      “If governors do not know how to attract investment, they have no idea how to develop their regions. We do not need governors that sit and distribute budget funds sent from Kyiv,” he said, urging the regional leaders to create a favorable investment climate in their regions.

      The President then insisted that they must liberalize border crossing procedures, adapt our border and customs rules to European standards, develop international transportation routes and renew border stations. He said Ukrainian customs offices “stimulate contraband and illegal border crossing.” Then he asked Deputy Foreign Minister Andriy Veselovsky to ensure that Ukraine and the European Union liberalize visa requirements in a new enhanced agreement.

      The President said the most important thing the European Union offered to Ukraine was new opportunities for its citizens.