The Foreign Ministers of the NATO-Ukraine Commission met today in Brussels, to discuss NATO-Ukraine relations and intensive engagement in the context of the Bucharest Summit decisions regarding Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations.
Reaffirming the importance of the NATO-Ukraine relationship, they have reviewed the developments of their relations since the Bucharest Summit. They noted with satisfaction that the NATO-Ukraine political dialogue has further deepened, and an increasing number of high-level contacts have taken place during the period of intensive engagement, including the successful visit of the North Atlantic Council to Ukraine in June 2008 and the Tallinn High-level Consultations of NATO and Ukraine Defence Ministers in November 2008. They reiterated that the well-structured and mutually beneficial relationship between NATO and Ukraine over the past 11 years in the Distinctive Partnership has contributed, and will continue to contribute, to regional and Euro-Atlantic security.
NATO Foreign Ministers briefed their Ukrainian colleague regarding the decisions on Ukraine and Georgia taken during the North Atlantic Council meeting on 2-3 December 2008. In that meeting, they reaffirmed all elements of the decisions regarding Ukraine and Georgia taken by NATO Heads of State and Government in Bucharest. They noted that Ukraine has made progress, yet has significant work left to do. Therefore, they have decided to provide further assistance to Ukraine in implementing needed reforms as Ukraine progresses towards NATO membership.
Through a performance based process, NATO Foreign Ministers also agreed to maximise NATO’s advice, assistance, and support for Ukraine’s reform efforts in the framework of the NATO-Ukraine Commission, which has a central role to play in supervising the process set in hand at the Bucharest Summit. In this context, NATO Foreign Ministers have decided to amend the NATO-Ukraine Charter on a Distinctive Partnership together with their Ukrainian partners to reflect this central role of the NUC. They have also decided to reinforce the NATO Information and Documentation Centre and the NATO Liaison Office in Kyiv. Finally, without prejudice to further decisions which must be taken about MAP, they have agreed that under the NATO-Ukraine Commission, an Annual National Programme will be developed to help Ukraine to advance her reforms, which will be annually reviewed by Allies.
Allied Foreign Ministers recalled their conviction that Ukraine‘s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity are key factors for ensuring stability in Europe.
Reviewing the challenges faced, and welcoming the progress achieved in the implementation of the NATO-Ukraine Action Plan and the Intensified Dialogue, NATO Foreign Ministers emphasised that Ukraine needs to continue the implementation of democratic, political, economic, defence and security sector reforms. They in particular urged Ukraine to further consolidate her democratic institutions, and underlined the importance of the independence of the judiciary. Allies emphasised that further enhancing political dialogue and practical cooperation between Ukraine and the Alliance will help advance Ukraine’s democratic transformation, reform goals and fulfillment of her international obligations. Allies called upon the political leaders of Ukraine to settle their differences in a way that ensures domestic stability.
Foreign Minister Ohryzko noted the decisions by NATO Foreign Ministers and looked forward to their implementation. Recalling the decisions of the NUC Summit in Bucharest, he underlined that during the course of 2008, political dialogue and practical cooperation between Ukraine and NATO has both deepened and broadened substantially. NATO-Ukraine cooperation developed actively and dynamically, covering greater areas of mutual interest, and increasing in intensity and scope. The outstanding issues in the context of Ukraine’s MAP application were adequately addressed.
The Ukrainian Foreign Minister re-affirmed Ukraine’s strategic course of Euro-Atlantic integration aimed at the achievement of full membership in the Alliance. He reconfirmed Ukraine’s determination to follow through relevant reforms, and to intensify mutually beneficial cooperation in ensuring regional peace and stability, including through support to NATO-led missions and operations. Minister Ohryzko further highlighted the progress on defence and security sector reform, the implementation by Ukraine of the Annual Target Plan 2008 and preparation of the draft ATP-2009, the continued successful implementation of NATO-supported retraining programmes for discharged military personnel and the programme for professional development of civilian personnel employed in security institutions, as well as substantially enhanced public information efforts in Ukraine, which have led to positive public opinion trends.
NATO Foreign Ministers underlined the need for Ukraine to support reform plans with adequate resources, to improve the system of coordination and cooperation with NATO and to increase public awareness on NATO issues.
Allies expressed gratitude for Ukraine’s active support to four NATO-led operations and missions: in Kosovo, in the Mediterranean Sea in Operation Active Endeavour, in Afghanistan and in the NATO Training Mission-Iraq (NTM-I). They welcomed the recent increase of Ukraine’s contribution in both the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the NTM-I. Through such contributions, Ukraine is demonstrating its commitment to help shoulder shared security responsibilities. They looked forward to further enhancing our operational cooperation in the future. Allied Ministers encouraged Ukraine to further promote regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations.
The Foreign Ministers of the NATO-Ukraine Commission appreciated that practical cooperation has been further enhanced in the last period by Ukraine’s decision to contribute to the UK-France Helicopter Initiative; her accession to the Air Situation Data Exchange (ASDE) Programme, her offer to participate in the NATO Response Force (NRF), and her interest in cooperation on cyber defence. They looked forward to the signature of an exchange of letters facilitating land transit through the territory of Ukraine of equipment and supplies for ISAF.
Finally, they noted a report on the implementation of the Annual Target Plan 2008, as well as the Military Committee with Ukraine Work Plan for 2009/2010. In this context, Allied Ministers reaffirmed NATO’s determination to assist Ukraine’s efforts through consultations and practical cooperation.