Yushchenko Promises to Cooperate

BRUSSELS -- The European Union said Tuesday that Ukraine's president has promised that he will not reopen a 2009 energy deal with Moscow that restarted natural gas service to EU countries last week.

Russia halted gas shipments to Europe over Ukrainian pipelines for two weeks earlier this month amid a contract dispute over what Ukraine should pay for Russian gas in 2009.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko indicated last week that he wanted to revisit the gas deal with Russia, saying its terms will further undermine his country's economy, but he backed off that view at European Union headquarters.

In a joint news conference with Yushchenko, EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said it was now key for both sides to improve relations and help Ukraine upgrade its energy and pipeline networks so it can regain the trust of EU gas clients.

Barroso said Ukraine "will honor its commitment" to the deal signed with Russia.

"The agreements signed are not easy ones [but] Ukraine fully takes up full-fledged transit to the European consumers," Yushchenko said.

Barroso said he was convinced that Ukraine wanted to deepen its ties with the EU and that the EU was keen to do that as well. Ukraine has sought membership in the EU and NATO.