Updated: 09-Jul-2002 NATO Speeches

Kyiv, Ukraine
9 July 2002

NUC Ambassadorial Meeting

Opening statement by NATO Secretary General,
Lord Robertson

Anatoliy, it is a pleasure to hold this meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission at Ambassadorial level in Kyiv, the second such meeting since the NATO-Ukraine Charter was signed exactly five years ago today in Madrid. It has been over two years since the North Atlantic Council travelled to Ukraine the last time. It is good to be back. Thank you for your hospitality.

Before I start on my remarks, please allow me, on behalf of the North Atlantic Council, to extend my deepest sympathy to the families of the miners who died in Sunday's tragic fire in the Donetsk region. I will be travelling to Donetsk tonight, and I hope to be able to pay a personal tribute to the dead.

This is not a sentimental journey. We are here to do business - to take stock of the five years of our Distinctive Partnership and to look ahead to the meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission at Summit level in Prague in November.

Business, in international relations just as in the world of commerce, is based on hard-nosed interests. Business will always thrive when interests meet. The story of the NATO-Ukraine Commission Distinctive Partnership is such a success story of taking NATO's and Ukraine's joint interests forward in a dynamic and dramatically changing security environment.

The positive dynamic of closer cooperation and integration across the entire Euro-Atlantic area is well reflected in the ever closer ties NATO and Ukraine forged under the Charter. We have weathered quite a few storms together - in the Balkans, in the resolute response to the terrorist threat, in defence reform and in dealing with the consequences of natural disasters, to name only these fields of joint endeavours. We must continue on that road: to formulate joint responses to joint challenges, proceeding from a shared assessment that, today, our security is, indeed, indivisible.

Ukraine itself has made an invaluable contribution to European security and stability by the very strategic choices it has made - at home and in foreign and security policies, which are but two sides of the same coin. When addressing the Verkhovna Rada on 18 June, President Kuchma spoke of Ukraine's " orientation towards full-scale Euro-Atlantic integration " in the context of transformation and reform of Ukraine. We welcome that approach. It is the key to fulfilling Ukraine's aspirations.

In Reykjavik on 15 May 2002, Allied Foreign Ministers and you, Anatoliy, tasked Ambassadors of the NUC to explore and develop, building on the Charter, a deepened and broadened relationship. At Reykjavik, it was also agreed that Ambassadors today, marking the 5th Anniversary of our Distinctive Partnership, take stock of achievements to date and review the progress made following the Ministerial tasking. On both topics this meeting has been well prepared. Later on in this forum, we will discuss and note a comprehensive Stocktaking Review. It shows how much we have achieved together - and where we can yet do better. The same frank and realistic tone characterises the Progress Report which we will also discuss and note today.

The task before us now is to concentrate on building upon and enhancing our Distinctive Partnership in preparation for the Prague Summit. The Progress Report and its perspectives for an action plan is an excellent basis for that. The Alliance is ready to take our relationship forward in a goal-oriented and substance-driven fashion. We will remain engaged in this long-term process. A lot will depend on Ukraine's resolve to take reforms forward. But we are ready to go as far as Ukraine can.

On the practical level, and as evidence of the new quality of our relationship, today marks the formal start of negotiations on a NATO-Ukraine agreement on strategic airlift. The Ukrainian Antonov aircraft played an essential role in moving forces and equipment quickly from Europe to Afghanistan. Our negotiations aim at an agreement to use this unique Ukrainian asset to support NATO operations.

I am also delighted that today a Memorandum of Understanding on Host Nation Support will be signed by Deputy Defence Minister Bannykh [to be confirmed] and Admiral Forbes. In setting out how NATO and Ukraine will use available Ukrainian assets and capabilities for exercises and operations, this agreement illustrates the strong potential of our cooperation, both military and political, and is evidence of the trust and understanding of shared goals that we have built up under the Charter.

That, Anatoliy, concludes my opening remarks. I would now like to pass the floor to you before the signing ceremony.

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