The OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht, encouraged the Ukrainian authorities today to remain actively engaged in the Transdniestrian settlement negotiations, involving neighbouring Moldova, according to an OSCE press-release.

"I would like to express my appreciation for the personal role and interest President Yushchenko has taken in the Transdniestrian settlement process, giving it new impetus," he said.

"We need to continue the implementation of the `Yushchenko plan`, adjusting it to delays and obstacles, and make sure the 5+2 negotiating process is back on track."

The 5+2 format includes Moldova and Transdniestria, with Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE as mediators, as well as the EU and the United States as observers.

During meetings with President Viktor Yushchenko and Foreign Minister Boris Tarasyuk, the Chairman-in-Office congratulated them on the democratic advances made in the March parliamentary elections, adding: "The elections were also evidence of the progress made by Ukraine in fulfilling its OSCE commitments."

He said the OSCE was following developments in Ukraine toward forming a new government and sees it as essential for the stability of the country and the wider region. "Although it is a domestic issue, I would like to point out that a stable government coalition can only benefit the country and the stability of the wider European continent."

On Thursday and Friday, Minister De Gucht visited the EU Border Assessment Mission in Odesa and on the border between Ukraine and Moldova. He said the OSCE was pleased with the new customs agreement between Ukraine and Moldova and the work of the Border Assessment Mission.

The Chairman-in-Office praised the close co-operation established between the Government of Ukraine and different parts of the OSCE, especially the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine, saying: "The Project Co-ordinator`s Office can contribute greatly to Ukraine`s democratic, social and economic development."