ANKARA – Ukraine told Turkey yesterday it wanted to get involved in a pipeline bringing gas to European Union markets without transiting Russia. During a visit to Ankara by Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, the Black Sea neighbors agreed to boost trade and cooperate more closely in the lucrative energy sector. Yanukovich said Kiev was keen to join the Nabucco project, which aims to pump Caspian and Iranian natural gas via Turkey and the Balkans to European markets and whose consortium is seeking a new partner. «We want to play an active role in the Nabucco project. .. We have great potential in the construction of gas pipelines. We produce the necessary machines and big pipes,» he told a news conference. «We are partners in the energy field, not rivals.» The -4.6 billion, 3,300-kilometer Nabucco pipeline is seen as a cornerstone of Europe’s efforts to reduce its reliance on Russian energy, much of which is pumped through pipelines across Ukrainian territory. Questions have been raised over Russia’s reliability as an energy supplier after Moscow cut off gas supplies to Ukraine and oil to Belarus during price spats, hitting deliveries to Europe. Shareholders in the Nabucco project include companies from Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria, but the consortium is seeking a sixth partner. Several West European energy majors have been mentioned. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey, which like Ukraine aspires to become a key energy transit hub, views positively other countries’ possible participation in Nabucco. The two prime ministers said they hoped to boost bilateral trade, now worth $4 billion a year, to $10 billion by 2010. Yanukovich said Ukraine was watching Turkey’s efforts to join the European Union and hoped to learn from its experiences. «We have a big task ahead of us… We have to modernize our economy and make our laws compatible with those of the EU,» said Yanukovich, who is seen as more pro-Russian and less oriented toward the EU than his rival, President Viktor Yushchenko. Turkey, an EU candidate since 1999, began negotiations in 2005 but last month Brussels suspended talks in eight of 35 policy areas due to Ankara’s refusal to open its ports to Cyprus, a member of the wealthy 27-nation bloc.