15 years of Distinctive Partnership between NATO and Ukraine
Fifteen years ago, on 9 July 1997, the Charter on a Distinctive Partnership between NATO and Ukraine was signed. It identified areas for consultation and cooperation, and established the NATO-Ukraine Commission to take work forward. Since then, dialogue and practical cooperation have become well-established in a wide range of areas.
Over the years, Ukraine has been a much-valued contributor to NATO-led operations. It is currently the only partner country contributing actively to the three main ongoing operations – the stabilization forces in Kosovo and Afghanistan, and Operation Active Endeavour, the counter-terrorist maritime operation in the Mediterranean.
Ukraine has pledged support for NATO’s counter-piracy operation off the Horn of Africa, with ships expected to deploy in 2013. It is also the first partner country to contribute to the NATO Response Force
Ukraine contributed to the NATO Training Mission in Iraq, which ended in December 2011. Ukrainian forces were also part of NATO’s first peacekeeping mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Support for reform
Beyond support for operations, another important aspect of relations has been the support given by NATO and individual Allies for Ukraine’s ongoing reform efforts, particularly in the defence and security sectors. These reforms are crucial to the ongoing transformation of Ukraine’s security posture and vital for the country’s democratic development.
A Joint Working Group on Defence Reform, established in 1998, directs cooperation in this area. Ukraine has sought NATO’s support in efforts to transform its Cold War legacy of massive conscript forces into smaller, professional and more mobile armed forces. Another priority has been to strengthen democratic and civilian control of Ukraine’s armed forces and security institutions.
A number of projects are generating tangible benefits. Some 5200 released servicemen have benefited from NATO-Ukraine programmes that are helping Ukraine retrain and resettle former military personnel made redundant as a result of the progressive downsizing of the Ukrainian armed forces. And a 25 million euro Trust Fund project is helping Ukraine to safely destroy dangerous stocks of unused and obsolete munitions.
Both NATO and Ukraine have made clear that they are committed to working together further. The current Ukrainian government has declared its intention to maintain this strong level of cooperation with the Alliance. For their part, NATO heads of state and government declared at the Chicago Summit that NATO is ready to continue to develop its cooperation with Ukraine and assist with the implementation of reforms in the framework of the NATO-Ukraine Commission and the Annual National Programme.
Commitments to democracy and rule of law
At Chicago, echoing a key point made in the 1997 Charter, Allied leaders stressed that “an independent, sovereign and stable Ukraine, firmly committed to democracy and the rule of law, is key to Euro-Atlantic security.”
They welcomed Ukraine’s commitment to enhancing political dialogue and interoperability with NATO, as well as its contributions to NATO-led operations.
However, noting the principles and commitments enshrined in the Charter and Ukraine’s Annual National Programme with NATO, Allied leaders expressed their concerns about the rule of law in Ukraine and called on the government to address the existing shortcomings of its judicial system. They also encouraged Ukraine to ensure free, fair and inclusive Parliamentary elections this autumn.