Ukraine security situation and reform agenda at the heart of the Ukraine-NATO Interparliamentary Council meeting
The Ukraine-NATO Interparliamentary Council (UNIC) reviewed Ukraine’s extensive partnership with NATO during exchanges with NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana and deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Olga Stefanishyna on Monday 8 February.
Opening the first UNIC meeting of 2021, NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly President, US Congressman Gerald E. Connolly, stressed that 30 years since regaining independence, “Ukraine is paying a high price for the choices it has made. And we must stand firmly by your side to defend your freedom to choose your own future”, adding Ukraine’s partners “will never accept” the illegal annexation of Crimea.
During the meeting, lawmakers from NATO voiced their firm support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and Euro-Atlantic aspirations. They strongly condemned Russia’s ongoing illegal occupation of Crimea, destabilisation of Eastern Ukraine and militarisation of the Black Sea.
In his address, Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana welcomed that, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the distinctive partnership between NATO and Ukraine has remained dynamic. “NATO will continue to provide tailored support to security and defence sector reforms in Ukraine. Through our Allied Advisers working directly with you in Kyiv, through Allied committees at NATO, staff to staff engagements and our capacity building programmes, for which Ukraine is a major beneficiary” he said.
Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana welcomed achievements in the reform agenda and cautioned against setbacks, especially in the fight against corruption and stressed that “the new status as Enhanced Opportunities Partner will facilitate even closer cooperation”. Recalling the Allies’ support for Ukraine’s path of Euro-Atlantic integration, he underlined the crucial role Parliament plays in driving forward the reforms needed to pursue this goal.
31 lawmakers form 13 NATO countries and Ukraine took part in the UNIC meeting, co-chaired by Ojars Eriks Kalnins (Latvia) and Ruslan Stefanchuk, First Deputy Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada.
UNIC was created in 1998 to bring greater transparency to the implementation of the NATO–Ukraine Charter and to demonstrate parliamentary interest and involvement in cooperation between NATO and Ukraine. It has since become a wider forum where members can discuss any issues of mutual concern.