Opening remarks by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen
at the NATO-Ukraine Commission in Defence Ministers’ Session
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We welcome the opportunity to hold this meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission so soon after the momentous events in Ukraine.
We are deeply saddened by the loss of life and the suffering. We welcome the fact that negotiations have stopped the spiral of violence. And we wish to continue our engagement, and confirm our support to Ukraine on the path of democratic and inclusive reforms.
We see defence reform and military cooperation as key priorities. We stand ready to support Ukraine as it strengthens democratic control over the defence sector, with effective parliamentary oversight and the robust involvement of civil society.
Ukraine is and remains an important partner for NATO. NATO is and remains a friend of Ukraine. And a sovereign, independent and stable Ukraine, firmly committed to democracy and the rule of law, is and remains key to Euro-Atlantic security.
This is why I am extremely concerned about the most recent developments in Crimea. This morning’s action by an armed group is dangerous and irresponsible. I urge Russia not to take any action that could escalate tension or create misunderstanding. I urge the new Ukrainian leadership to continue its efforts to establish an inclusive political process that reflects the democratic aspirations of the entire Ukrainian people. And I urge all parties to step back from confrontation, refrain from provocative actions and return to the path of dialogue.
And that concludes the public part of our meeting and I thank the media for their attendance.