Joint press conference
by the NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko during the NATO Summit held in Newport, Wales
We have just had an important meeting with President Poroshenko on the grave crisis in Ukraine.
Russia is now fighting against Ukraine, in Ukraine. Russian troops and Russian tanks are attacking the Ukrainian forces. And while talking about peace, Russia has not made one single step to make peace possible. Instead of de-escalating the crisis, Russia has only deepened it.
What is happening in Ukraine has serious implications for the security and stability of the whole Euro-Atlantic area. We stand united in our support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally-recognized borders.
We strongly condemn Russia’s repeated violations of international law. Russia must stop its aggressive actions against Ukraine. Withdraw its thousands of troops from Ukraine and the border regions. And stop supporting the separatists in Ukraine.
We call on Russia to reverse its illegal and illegitimate self-declared “annexation” of Crimea, which we do not and will not recognize.
This is the first time since the end of World War Two that one European country has tried to grab another’s territory by force. Europe must not turn away from the rule of law to the rule of the strongest. This is vital for peace and security in the world.
Ukraine has been an important and distinctive NATO partner for many years.
We highly value Ukraine’s contributions to our operations and the NATO Response Force. Ukraine has stood by NATO. Now in these difficult times, NATO stands by Ukraine.
Our support is concrete and tangible. We have established a comprehensive and tailored package of measures so that Ukraine can better provide for its own security. We will focus on cyber defence, logistics, and command, control and communications. We will also help with rehabilitation for troops injured in the conflict. We will provide advice to help Ukraine with defence reforms. And allies will assist Ukraine with around 15 million euro through NATO, and in addition to that, we have heard several announcements of bilateral assistance – financially and in other ways.
An independent, sovereign and stable Ukraine, firmly committed to democracy and the rule of law, is key to Euro-Atlantic security. That is NATO’s goal, and I know that that is your goal too, Mr President.
[Opening remarks by the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko]
OANA LUNGESCU (NATO Spokesperson): We'll start with UNIAN.
Q: Ukrainian News Agency, UNIAN. I have a question for both high representatives. For Ukrainian President, how do you... what is your vision for Ukrainian wait to become a NATO member? Do you have any timeframe? And for Secretary General, how NATO can help Ukraine to become a member? Thank you.
PETRO POROSHENKO (President of Ukraine): If you look in for the... any program for cooperation with NATO, so most significant part of this reform (is) dedicated not only to the security sector; but to the economy, rule of law, anti-corruption and different others. And I think that this is the key important factor to Ukraine to demonstrate the great achievement in this reform. And that's why I said that the war on the East of the country is not an excuse for not providing the reform in the country. And that's why next week we will present it, the program of the reform which was developed by the... in a strong cooperation with the European Union and NATO. And I think that the new parliamentary election will help us a lot for accelerate the reform process. And when the country would be adequate to the criteria for the membership, the Ukrainian people will decide when and how it happens.
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: And let me pick up on that; because it is exactly for the Ukrainian people to decide and the Ukrainian political leadership to decide how to develop its future relationship with NATO.
But whatever decision, it is of utmost importance to improve our ability to work and operate together. And this is exactly the reason why we are focussing reforming and modernizing the Ukrainian armed forces; develop the security sector; raise standards to NATO level. And that will be a focal point within the NATO-Ukraine Commission and the Annual National Program and the trust funds we have decided to establish.
OANA LUNGESCU: Kyiv Post please.
Q: (Inaudible) from Ukrainian daily Day. My question to Secretary General. Secretary General, what are the essentials... excluding military options, I mean supply of, at last, military equipment to Ukrainians? How can the Ukrainian crisis...? Indeed, it's not a Ukrainian crisis. It's a Russian aggression. Imagine, how can be these Russian forces carried back or put back for their war into Russia; and Crimea can be... join back to Ukraine? How can it be resolved without military option, without supply and military equipment for Ukraine, badly needed for Ukrainian forces? Thanks.
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Honestly speaking, I don't think anyone would like war or armed conflict to solve this issue. We do believe that the best way forward would be to find a political solution. And to facilitate such political solution, I firmly believe that the international community must respond determinedly if Russia were to intervene further in Ukraine; respond through deeper, broader, tougher economic sanctions that would definitely hurt Russian economy and isolate Russia further.
OANA LUNGESCU: Channel 1 + 1.
Q: I have a question for Ukrainian President in Ukrainian and if... Excuse me... (SPEAKS IN UKRAINIAN).
PETRO POROSHENKO: (SPEAKS IN UKRAINIAN)
OANA LUNGESCU: Bloomberg, at the back.
Q: Jim Neuger from Bloomberg. I'm right here. First, a question for President Poroshenko about the Minsk Talks tomorrow! What? How do you see the prospects for an actual ceasefire? And why are you entering this process now? Don't you fear this would leave you with the present conflict?
And I ask the Secretary General to assess Mr. Putin's peace initiative. Is it genuine or smokescreen?
PETRO POROSHENKO: Look, Ukraine is fighting for peace. Ukraine was not an initiator of war. Ukrainians are objects of the aggression. We try to do our best for the immediate stop the aggression and to immediately stop the fire. Why? Because it's exactly Ukraine who paid the highest price every single day! They're losing the lives of their soldiers, even on innocent civilians. And me as a President of Ukraine already to do my best to stop the war! And why I'm... I have... I can say careful optimism? For tomorrow, meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group in Minsk; because beforehand it was the statement of the Russian authorities and the Russian president! And it was in response to the statement of leaders of so-called Lugansk and Donetsk People Republic. They're ready for immediate ceasefire. And now it is very important to have a support of the OSCE for the monitoring and verifying mission; and to the immediate release of the hostages which is illegally kept by the terrorists; and put the situation under control on the Ukrainian-Russian border; and withdraw all the Russian troops. I think this is a very tough challenge; before the very important political negotiation, taking into account that the question of the Ukrainian sovereignty, Ukrainian territorial integrity and Ukrainian independence is not a question for negotiation.
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: If recent statements from President Putin represent a genuine effort to find a political solution, I would welcome it; because that's exactly what we need: a constructive political process.
However, what counts is what is actually happening on the ground. So it remains to be seen what it is. And I have to say that previously we have seen similar statements and initiatives. And they have actually just been a smokescreen for continued Russian destabilization of the situation in Ukraine.
So based on experience, we have to be cautious in our assessment. But again, let me say that if we are witnessing genuine efforts to find a political solution, I would welcome it.
OANA LUNGESCU: Thank you very much. Good evening!