Joint press conference
with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko
Thank you so much President Poroshenko, and thank you so much for hosting the meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission here in Kyiv today. And thank you also for the strong partnership between NATO and Ukraine. This is something we appreciate very much at NATO because we have to remember that this is a partnership where we support each other. NATO provides strong practical and political support for Ukraine but at the same time Ukraine provides support to NATO and we are very grateful for the fact that Ukraine contributes to all NATO missions and operations from Afghanistan, Kosovo, Mediterranean and also helped piracy off the Horn of Africa. So the partnership between NATO and Ukraine is a strong mutual partnership where we help to strengthen each other and I’m very grateful for that and also for you personal commitment and your personal leadership in developing this partnership.
We have just discussed the situation in Eastern Ukraine. The conflict continues to claim lives. The fighting has killed more than 10,000 people, including almost 3,000 civilians. It is clear that the ceasefire is not holding and we are concerned by increasing threats against OSCE monitors. The Minsk Agreements remain the only path towards peace. Russia must withdraw its thousands of soldiers from Ukraine and stop supporting the militants, with command and control, and military equipment. NATO stands firm in our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We do not, and we will not, recognise Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea.
NATO will continue to provide Ukraine with practical support. Today, we reviewed our Comprehensive Assistance Package for Ukraine. Through ten different Trust Funds, NATO Allies have pledged almost forty million euros to support Ukraine. In areas such as command and control, cyber defence and medical rehabilitation. We are now working to provide Ukraine with satellite communications equipment. In recent days, we have delivered state of the art cyber defence equipment, helping key government institutions, to better investigate cyber security incidents and to protect themselves from cyber-attacks, such as those we saw recently.
Let me also add that on top of what NATO provides through the Alliance, we also encourage of course support by NATO Allies on the bilateral level and we welcome strongly the support from many NATO Allies on the bilateral level to Ukraine in different ways.
This morning, I was pleased to meet Ukrainian veterans, who benefit from our Medical Rehabilitation Trust Fund and who will represent Ukraine at the Invictus Games in Toronto.
These are just a few examples of our support. NATO Allies also provide military training to Ukrainian armed forces and every day, NATO advisors support Ukraine’s security and defence reforms.
I welcome the steps you, President Poroshenko, and the Ukrainian government have taken to implement key reforms and to counter corruption. We encourage you to build on this progress. These reforms are essential, to ensure security and prosperity for all Ukrainians and to bring Ukraine closer to NATO.
NATO will continue to support you on this path.
MODERATOR: Now we have time for questions. We have a possibility for four questions from both sides
Q: [Interpreted]: I have a question to both gentlemen, primarily to President Poroshenko but also if the Secretary General wants to add something to the answer I will be grateful. I have a question about the future format of cooperation between Ukraine and NATO. We have heard that Ukraine is not planning to apply for membership in the near future; perhaps NATO accepts this. My question is what prevents us from applying, from applying for membership in the near future, maybe even in the autumn this year? Or maybe to apply for intensified dialogue like what Georgia enjoys now. If nothing stands in the way probably we have to do this, if something stands in the way of this what are the arguments against such a move? Thank you.
PETRO POROSHENKO (President of Ukraine) [Interpreted]: Sir thank you for your question. Ukraine has clearly defined its security future, security related future. The Verkhovna Rada Parliament voted and I signed the law which states a future membership in NATO as our goal in foreign policy, and security policy. We deem it necessary and today it has been emphasized that we should start a discussion about establishing a membership action plan and our proposals at the beginning of the discussion were accepted with understanding. There is no special way towards NATO. Today I spoke at the meeting of NATO Ukraine Commission and I said clearly that when, 20 years ago 13 new countries have joined NATO, Montenegro being the latest of them. We are committed to reform, we have a clear-cut time table as to what we have to do by the year 2020 in order to meet the membership criteria because the way things stand now we do not meet these standards because over the last 20 years nothing has been done. To the contrary: laws were adopted which were pushing us away from NATO and it’s only for the last three years that we have made huge strides in reform and we’re assured that this discussion will bring us closer to relevant applications. We have a plan for these three years, we have a program for the period until 2020, we know clearly what to do. This is the first time in Ukraine when we have such a clear-cut roadmap. When Ukraine meets the criteria and the reforms are implemented and today by the way we have what we have never had in our history, more than 60 % of Ukrainians support Euro Atlantic integration for Ukraine and the government should heed this opinion of the people.
JENS STOLTENBERG (NATO Secretary General): Every nation has the right to decide its own path including whether it wants to be a member of a military alliance as NATO. And for NATO it is extremely important to underline that any decision on NATO membership has to be taken by the 28 members and the country which is applying for membership. No one else has the right to try to interfere or to intervene or to veto such a decision making process because it is a sovereign right of any sovereign nation to decide on its own future including whether it wants to be a member of a military alliance of NATO. The focus now in Ukraine is on reform and I welcome that because regardless of membership I welcome the fact that Ukraine is moving steadily towards meeting NATO standards and more interoperability meaning the ability to work together, Ukrainian forces and NATO forces, and to modernize Ukrainian security and defence institutions is also strengthening Ukraine’s ability to counter aggression we have seen in Eastern Ukraine and in Crimea. So NATO will continue to support Ukraine on the path towards a close relationship with NATO, to implementing reforms and to meeting NATO standards and then the message is that whether Ukraine is going to become a member of NATO or not is for the allies and Ukraine to decide, no one else has the right to try to veto such a process.
MODERATOR: Thank you.
Q: Secretary General, do you have any maybe fresh ideas in order how to make international pressure on Russia more effective? In order to force Kremlin to respect international law and to end its aggression against Ukraine and to restore international order and territory integrity of some of its neighbours. And Mr. President if you have new idea as well you can join, thank you.
JENS STOLTENBERG: So NATO is strongly supportive of the Minsk process, the Normandy Format, because we strongly believe that this is the best format for solving the crisis in Ukraine. Meaning that we also welcome the renewed initiatives to have new meetings and new efforts to try to make sure that the Minsk Agreements are fully implemented. I’m sure that the President can also say more about the status of that process. What I can say is that I strongly underline the importance of the economic sanctions; it is not for NATO to decide on economic sanctions but NATO allies are implementing sanctions and I think it is extremely [important] to maintain the sanctions as long as Russia doesn’t change its behaviour in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea and doesn’t implement the Minsk Agreements. Let me also add that NATO has implemented the biggest reinforcement to our collective defence since the end of the Cold War very much as a response to the aggressive actions of Russia in Ukraine. We have tripled the size of our NATO Response Force and we have increased our military presence in the eastern part of the alliance as a response to the aggressive actions of Russia in Ukraine. The last thing I will say is that NATO provides support to Ukraine, political support but also practical support, to increase Ukraine’s resilience against the aggression from Russia and we will continue to do so because we do not accept that the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Ukraine is violated.
PETRO POROSHENKO: Thank you very much indeed, Mr. Secretary General. I fully support what Secretary General said. I am absolutely confident that effective solidarity and unity, European, Trans-Atlantic, global, informal of G7 is an effective instrument to keep Russia at the table of negotiation. Point number one. Point number two, we should have agreed strategy for the immediate implementation of security package of the Minsk Agreement including immediate and comprehensive ceasefire, withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian soil, withdrawal of the Russian artillery tank, multi rocket launch system to Russia back or to put it in the sealed storage and progress for releasing the hostages. Immediate uninterrupted success of the special monitoring mission of OSCE on the whole occupied territory including and control of part of Ukrainian Russian border to be present 24/7, to stop supply new troops, new armament, new ammunition. And with that situation when we implement security package, preferably that this implementation should be guaranteed either by UN peacekeepers. Those last three years demonstrate that Russia is extremely irresponsible in implementation of security package. Or sees the permission of European Union or armed police mission of the OSCE. We do not accept the Russian attempt to create extremely dangerous security condition for the special military mission of OSCE, try to create a condition to leave the occupied territory. No, we are not accept that and an objective and independent information of special military mission of OSCE is a vital pre-condition for the implementation of security package and I am absolutely confident that our efforts and the results what’s reached on the G20 summit for next phone conversation and possible summit of the Normandy Format will give very careful optimism about the progress in the next months. Thank you.
Q: First German Television ARD. Honoured Secretary General and Mr. President I want to ask about the specific new threats which are emerging, particularly the cyber attacks. We know that Ukraine in the latest two years have been a target of multiple cyber attacks and basically what experts call the first use of cyber weapon against the civilian infrastructure in Europe in general. Concerning this my question is for the honoured Secretary General. In the alliance how closely alliance looks into these incidents and in particular the last incident on 27th of June which was much bigger in scale? Is this a topic of concern and what is the strategy of alliance? And the question to President Poroshenko. Is this also a topic of concern that these attacks grow bigger in scale? Which we see on 27th of June, it’s done much, much wider.
JENS STOLTENBERG: We are very concerned about the increase in cyber attacks we have seen and actually this is a pattern we have seen over some time and therefore NATO has decided and we are now implementing a strong reinforcement and strengthening of our cyber defences. This is partly about defending our own networks but also partly about helping NATO allies to strengthen their cyber defences and also to work together with the partner countries like Ukraine. This is about sharing best practices, this is about exercises, this is about developing technology. We need all of that to be able to respond to a cyber threat which is very present and which is constantly changing so the defence systems we have today are not those we need tomorrow, so we have to adapt all the time. And therefore I also welcome the fact that one of the areas where we now are working more and more closely together with Ukraine is exactly on cyber defences. We will provide Ukraine or actually we are in the process of providing Ukraine with new equipment to some key government institutions. This equipment will help Ukraine to investigate who is behind the different attacks, attribution is very often a key challenge when it comes to cyber attacks and it will also help Ukraine with defending key government institutions against cyber attacks. At the same time I think we also have to understand that NATO is learning a lot from Ukraine because just experience, just many examples of hybrid warfare, cyber attacks in Ukraine provides NATO with extremely valuable knowledge and understanding. So again it is a mutual beneficial partnership when Ukraine and NATO works together in countering cyber attacks.
PETRO POROSHENKO: Thank you. I can only support and confirm that the cooperation in cyber security and counter act in cyber attack is the main field of our cooperation with NATO. You know that one of the trust fund is dedicated exactly to the cyber security and this is not only with NATO but with the, on a bilateral cooperation program with the NATO member states including the United States. The cyber attack is the key element of the hybrid warfare and we have now in evidence that the last cyber attack also provided from the Russian, organized sorry by Russian Federation. And with that situation I want to once again attract your attention that this is not only form of cooperation in a soft way exchange, in an exchange of the best practice and technologies but now we receive the hardware - our main ministers including Minister of Foreign Affairs, other ministers, our security services receive the hardware, receive the communication equipment to, not only to defend our institution from the next cyber attack but also to effectively detect and share the practice and the information. And I can confirm that within 40 minutes after launching the attack the coordination between member states, between our partners was organized extremely effective and this allow us to help us to minimize the sequences of these attack from the 27th of June and we agreed to expand our cooperation to attract more money and to make it more efficient. And this is not, was not only the topic on my today meeting with the Secretary General but also topic for the yesterday meeting with the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Unfortunately Secretary General should leave to another meeting so we should end our press conference. Thank you very much.