Public opening remarks
by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission at the level of NATO Defence Ministers
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our meeting is a timely opportunity to demonstrate our support to Ukraine and to discuss priorities for cooperation in a new context. The presidential election has been a landmark event. Despite criminal violence, intimidation and provocation by pro-Russian armed gangs, it had a high turnout and a clear outcome. It was largely in line with international commitments and respectful of fundamental freedoms. So we look forward to working closely with the new President of Ukraine.
We stand firm in our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. NATO Allies do not recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea. And we strongly support the right of the Ukrainian people to determine their own future without outside interference.
We call on Russia to step back into line with its international commitments. Fully withdraw its armed forces from Ukraine’s border in a transparent and verifiable way. Stop supporting armed separatists and destabilising Ukraine. And prevent the crossing of separatists and weapons into Ukraine.
Ukraine is a long-standing, active NATO partner. Today we will discuss how we can further strengthen our partnership at this crucial time. How we can deliver immediate assistance to strengthen Ukraine’s ability to handle the current crisis. And how we can best provide longer-term advice and assistance for the reform of Ukraine’s security and defence sector, and the development of its defence capacities. Because a sovereign, stable, and democratic Ukraine is crucial to Euro-Atlantic security.
With that, I would like to conclude the public part of our session. I thank the representatives of the media for their attendance.