Joint press conference

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy

  • 31 Oct. 2019 -
  • |
  • Last updated 04-Nov-2019 10:36

(As delivered)

Good morning.

President Zelenskyy, my friend Volodymyr,

It is really a great pleasure to see you again and to be back in Kyiv. And this time,
I’m joined by the whole North Atlantic Council, representing all 29 Allies in NATO.
And I think that is showing the unwavering support of NATO and all NATO Allies to Ukraine. 

We have just finished an excellent meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission.
Ukraine is among our closest partners.
And we appreciate your contributions to Euro-Atlantic security. Your troops serve in Afghanistan and in Kosovo. And you are part of the NATO Response Force.
And I also know that you are preparing to contribute to the NATO training mission in Iraq, where we fight international terrorism together.
So NATO highly values its partnership with Ukraine. It is important for us to have you as a close and highly valued partner.

Today, we discussed the security situation in eastern Ukraine.  Allies are encouraged by the progress in Stanytsia Luhanska and other areas, where troops are pulling back.
But elsewhere, the conflict in Donbas continues to claim lives.
And we are concerned by reports of threats and restrictions against OSCE monitors.
Russia must end its support for the militants in eastern Ukraine.  And withdraw its forces and equipment from Ukrainian territory.

President Zelenskyy, I commend you for your strong commitment to a peaceful resolution of the conflict.   Your leadership and dedication is making a real difference. And this was expressed by all NATO Allies in our meeting today, the strong recognition of your strong personal leadership.

NATO fully supports Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We will never recognise Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea. And we condemn Russia’s aggressive actions in the Black Sea region.
Allies call on Russia to return the Ukrainian vessels seized last year.  And to ensure free access to Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov.

NATO continues to provide Ukraine with practical support. Today, we reviewed our Comprehensive Assistance Package for Ukraine. Through ten Trust Funds, NATO Allies and partners have pledged over forty million euros to support Ukraine. In areas such as command and control, cyber defence and medical rehabilitation. This is delivering real results. We are helping wounded service men and women get the treatment they need. We are strengthening Ukraine’s resilience to hybrid threats and cyber-attacks.

NATO Allies continue to provide military training to Ukrainian forces. And every day, NATO advisors support Ukraine’s security and defence reforms.
We are also increasing our support in the Black Sea region, with exercises, port visits and information sharing.
And yesterday, the North Atlantic Council visited 4 NATO ships in the port of Odesa, demonstrating the commitment of NATO Allies to Ukraine.
And we were pleased to meet Ukrainian naval cadets at the Naval Academy in Odesa, who benefit from NATO Allied training.
These are just a few examples of our cooperation and support.

Mr President, you have a very strong mandate to implement key reforms. As you know, I have repeatedly expressed the importance of minority rights. All Allies agree that Ukraine should fully implement the Venice Commission recommendations.
I would add that it is for Ukraine to decide and implement. I discussed this issue today with President Zelenskyy. And I was glad to be informed that six out of the seven Venice Commission recommendations are already being implemented.

Allies have also welcomed the steps your government has taken to fight corruption.
And they reiterated that today. The new Parliament has worked at remarkable speed, with more than 500 draft laws registered in one month. We encourage you to build on this progress. NATO will continue to provide advice and practical support.
To take forward security and defence reforms in the Law on National Security. To strengthen the rule of law. To ensure the rights of minorities. To fight corruption. And to make all aspects of public life open and transparent.
So that the institutions of Ukraine can better serve the interests of the people of Ukraine.

These reforms are essential. To ensure security and prosperity for all Ukrainians.
And to bring Ukraine closer to NATO.

So once again, thanks so much for hosting me and the whole North Atlantic Council in Kyiv today.

MODERATOR: We have time for questions from one Ukrainian media and one foreign media, or international. [inaudible]

QUESTION: [UNIAN] Thank you.  Mr President, the first question is for you. Due to the beginning of this deployment on . . . what extent is realistic the holding of the summit of the leaders of the Normandy format? Because yesterday the . . . President Putin said that these talks must be very well-prepared, not just empty talks. [inaudible]  format cooperation. The [inaudible] that is going to be launched in order to bring all altogether existent tools and instruments in more coherent way. And therefore, don’t you think that Hungary also going to block this initiative? Is there a unity among Allies in order to implement this initiative in practice? Thank you.  

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY [President of Ukraine]: Thank you for your question, as far as this meeting on the Normandy format is concerned, there were three conditionalities. This is the reconfirmation of the Steinmeier formula, and when we say about this four of them are controlled by the Ukrainian authorities. And we are now a part, have begun our disengagement in [inaudible], and if everything is safe in Petrivske throughout the week, then on the 4th, I think, of November, we must start the disengagement in Petrivske. So I don’t think that there is possibilities that this meeting should not take place, you know, if all these participants actually agree with that kind of setup.

JENS STOLTENBERG [NATO Secretary General]: All NATO Ally . . . Allies strongly support Ukraine. And we provide political support and practical support. We support Ukraine’s territorial integrity. We condemn Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea. And we call on Russia to withdraw all its forces, all equipment from Ukrainian territory and stop destabilising eastern Ukraine. We also provide a lot of practical support. NATO Allies provide training of Ukrainian forces. We have different NATO trust funds, financing different activities, cyber, command and control. And yesterday we visited the Naval Academy in Odessa. And there I actually saw some of the activities, new equipment, new language . . . language courses, and also the fact that now Ukrainian cadets can actually receive training onboard NATO ships – showing that we are working together on many different levels, addressing many different challenges, practic— . . . practical cooperation and . . . and practical support for Ukraine. What we have agreed on in NATO is now, is to bring this together in a more coordinated way, so we can provide our support in an even more coherent and coordinated way. And we also agreed this spring, at the Foreign Ministerial Meeting of NATO in April in . . . in Washington, that we are going to step up our efforts, especially when it comes to the Black Sea region, with more presence and more training, more exercises, more exchanging of information. So we will continue, and we are actually stepping up our political support and our practical support. And we commend the leadership of President Zelensky, showing courage and leadership in trying to find a peaceful, negotiated solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine. And of course, we also support a full implementation of the Minsk agreement. So for me, it has been a great honour to be here today, to meet with the President once again. I think this is our third meeting and it’s always encouraging to . . . to listen to his very clear message about the way forward for this country and how we can strengthen further the cooperation and partnership between Ukraine and NATO.

MODERATOR: The second question that is Reuters.

QUESTION [Reuters]:  This is the question to the Ukrainian leader. Well there was this Nord . . . Nord Stream 2, Nord Stream 2.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY: Thank you for this question. Well, this is not just the question of Nord Stream 2, but this is . . . this is the question of security. This is a geopolitical issue. So my point of view, and it’s not all ours, we understand that it could happen. It might happen. And if it depended exclusively on me, then that wouldn’t be confirmed. But I personally, and our government, we were prepared for that kind of decision. We are prepared for that.

MODERATOR: Thank you. That press conference is over.