Joint press point
with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the Prime Minister of Ukraine, Arseniy Yatsenyuk
Prime Minister Yatseniuk, welcome to NATO Headquarters. It’s really an honour and pleasure to have you here.
And your visit just underlines the strong partnership between NATO and Ukraine.
We also very much appreciate that we are able to develop our partnership. And especially because the people of Ukraine have chosen the path of democracy and closer cooperation with Europe. And we welcome that and we underline that the decision by the people of Ukraine has to be respected.
And NATO stands with you.
We are supporting you both politically and we also provide practical support. And we are eager to strengthen our partnership.
We have created five trust funds which will help Ukraine to improve its own security.
Those trust funds are now up and running. They aim to make Ukraine’s defence forces more modern, more transparent, and more effective.
And in addition, many NATO Allies are also providing practical support to Ukraine on a bilateral basis and that is also important. And I welcome this support very much.
Today we have also discussed Russia’s continued illegal actions to destabilise Ukraine.
Mr Prime Minister, you have shown a real desire to find a peaceful solution to the crisis in Ukraine.
NATO fully supports Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
We strongly believe that the Minsk agreements offer the best way to a peaceful solution.
Ukraine has made real efforts to live up to those commitments.
We call on Russia to do the same. And to respect the Minsk agreements. And to use all its influence over the separatists, to also make the separatists respect the Minks agreements and the cease-fire.
A sovereign and stable Ukraine, firmly committed to democracy and the rule of law, is key to Euro-Atlantic security.
Mr Prime Minister, NATO will stand with you as you work towards those goals.
OANA LUNGESCU (NATO Spokesperson): Thank you very much. We have time for a few questions. Start with European Pravda.
Q: I have questions for both officials. First of all, Mister Stoltenberg, we know that several times NATO insisted that you cannot provide Ukraine with military support and so on. But at the same time, we see that NATO Allies face several times. And the most recently, there was a statement by the Canadian prime minister that they do not provide Ukraine with missile weapon just because NATO did not take a decision; that NATO can't... do... ready to supply the people. Don't you think that you're playing a blame game; that just (inaudible) wants to show, (inaudible] that we are not guilty, just (inaudible). Societies not willing to provide. What is the reason?
And a question to Mr Yatsenyuk: "Could you please verify the issue? Do we go for NATO membership? Or we don't?" Because I think that Ukrainian people needs some clarity. Thank you very much.
JENS STOLTENBERG (NATO Secretary General): First of all, as you know, NATO doesn't possess weapons or equipment. So NATO does not provide equipment to any partner; because we don't possess them.
Then, it's up to each individual NATO Ally to decide what kind of support, what kind of equipment they provide. And I know that several NATO Allies are providing different kinds of support, also practical support; and also provide different kinds of equipment to Ukraine.
In addition, I know that there is a dialogue between Ukraine and several NATO Allies on whether it's possible to increase and also expand the types of equipment which is provided to Ukraine.
I welcome that there a close dialogue. And I welcome that many NATO Allies are supporting Ukraine. But this is, at the end, a bilateral relationship between NATO Allies and Ukraine.
ARSENIY YATSENYUK (Prime Minister of Ukraine): Well, on NATO membership prospective, I do remember nine months ago when in this very building I said that NATO membership is not yet on our radars. And I will tell you that the screen of this radar has entirely changed.
Today, we detected that this radar Russian tanks, Russian howitzers, Russian soldiers and Russian military boots on the ground. I want to be very clear that Ukrainian President and Ukrainian Prime Minister and Ukrainian authorities have one joint position over all national security and defence issues. It is our joint decision to eliminate so-called non-bloc status that was granted to Russia by then President Yanukovych. This is the first step.
The second step: We need to pass reforms and to implement reforms that are needed in security sector, in political sector, in the economy, in justice to meet all standards and criteria that apply to NATO member States. The Serdish(?) under the current Ukrainian legislation we are to hold referendum on the suggested NATO membership prospective. And the fourth issue, if we succeed implementing and executing everything that I just indicated, we will be ready to join the Alliance. This is the roadmap. And we will follow this roadmap.
OANA LUNGESCU: Channel 122.
Q: (SPEAKS IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE) (Interpretation) The question to Mister Yatsenyuk. Could you tell us...? I'd like just to clarify. The moment that we are not talking about making application of NATO membership, we only just refused a non-bloc status. Am I correct? I will try to explain once again. We can make an application. But this doesn't mean that you will be accepted. In order to make an application and be accepted as a member, it is necessary first to reintroduce changes into legislation and to openly... to pave way for membership.
The second: to implement all necessary reforms to meet the standards and criteria of NATO.
The third: to get agreement of Ukrainian people. And I'm sure that this agreement we will have... And the fourth, not just submit an application; but to get invitation to join the Alliance.
OANA LUNGESCU: NPR/CBS.
Q: Teri Schultz with NPR and CBS. Sorry, question for both men. Mister Secretary General we have now seen two more near misses in air with Russian aircraft with transponders off. They have counter-accused NATO of turning off its planes' transponders.
And Finland... Moscow... Sorry, Denmark and Sweden complained to Moscow. Finland is saying that IACO, the international aviation organization should get involved. How dangerous is this situation and what more can you do? The scrambles obviously aren't acting as deterrent to stop these flights.
And to the Prime Minister, I haven't... what kind of action... actually month...? What kind of timeline are you talking about? Yes, after you passed the laws, after you passed the reforms, what is the soonest that you think now with your new government, that the country could be in shape to ask for, to have the requirements in place to ask NATO membership? Thanks.
JENS STOLTENBERG: I don't have any more specific information on the incident outside the Swedish air space this weekend. But what I can say is that we have seen a substantial increase in Russian air activity around NATO borders, NATO airspace during the last year. And especially in the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea, and it's only... not only a question of increased numbers and increased number of flights. But it is also the way they are conducting the flights. And that has... and they are not filing the flight plans. And they're not communicating with civilian air traffic control. And they are not turning on the transponders. And that poses a risk to civilian air traffic.
I would like to underline that all NATO planes, AWACS planes and jets are conducting their flights in compliance with international safety standards. And that NATO AWACS planes and jets, they are turning on their transponders. And I think that the important thing is that NATO will stay... stays vigilant and that we are intercepting the Russian flights, partly because it shows that we are prepared and we are vigilant and we are doing what we are supposed to do; but also that both the presence of AWACS planes in the area and NATO planes in the area, jets, is any... or they are enabling us to identify the Russian planes and thereby also being able to follow them and to reduce the risks they are posing on civilian air traffic.
ARSENIY YATSENYUK: Ah! On the issue of suggested NATO membership, let me just remind you of the statement or the conclusion of the Bucharest Summit of 2008. It was clearly stated that Ukraine will be NATO member.
I would be happy to have this as quick as possible. But even in case if for example tomorrow morning we send an application or request to NATO member States, please make us NATO member, I'm not sure that everyone will be happy with this.
First, we need to implement reforms; to meet criteria. And then it's in the interest of NATO member States to have strong Ukraine. The stronger Ukraine, the stronger NATO and NATO member States.
OANA LUNGESCU: Thank you very much indeed! Good evening.