ECB to move towards "normalization": Nowotny

VIENNA (Reuters) - The European Central Bank (ECB) is watching energy prices carefully and still wants to move toward a more "normal" monetary policy despite recent events in Japan, ECB Governing Board member Ewald Nowotny said on Sunday.

Nowotny said the ECB was examining Japan's crisis and the Middle East unrest for potential effects on the euro zone.

He said he believed the central bank would stick to its overall goal to bring rates within a normal range and continue to withdraw liquidity measures brought in during the financial crisis.

"My personal opinion is that ... nothing will change in terms of our original outlook -- that we want to go in the direction of normalization," he told Austrian broadcaster ORF.

He said events in the Middle East were more relevant to the euro area than Japan because of their influence on the oil price. Energy prices are very high and have captured the attention of the ECB, he said.

"The president of the ECB ... already at the last press conference announced we are watching this development extremely closely and that we could make overall monetary policy more restrictive, or how I would rather put it, to normalize it."

(Reporting by Sylvia Westall; Editing by David Holmes)