NATO-Ukraine foreign ministers meet
Ukraine's Acting Foreign Minister Volodymyr Khandogiy attended a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission with Allied counterparts at NATO Headquarters on 7 December. Ministers took stock of progress achieved in cooperation, and discussed the foreign and security policy priorities of Ukraine and the prospects for the development of the NATO-Ukraine relationship.
Minister Khandogiy was replacing former Foreign Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who had recently been elected to be the new speaker of the Ukrainian parliament. He briefed the Allies on the political developments in Ukraine. Allied ministers welcomed the conduct of free and fair parliamentary elections in September and the formation of a governing coalition, and looked forward to the timely constitution of a new government.
Mr Khandogiy emphasized that Ukraine's strategic course of Euro-Atlantic integration remained unchanged and reiterated Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko's recent statement on Ukraine's interest in joining the Membership Action Plan. Speaking to the press, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer emphasized that any such invitation would be based on Ukraine's performance in implementing key reforms. The Allies are committed to supporting Ukraine in the pursuit of its Euro-Atlantic aspirations though the Intensified Dialogue and the NATO-Ukraine Action Plan, without prejudice to any eventual Alliance decision.
Reviewing the status of NATO-Ukraine cooperation, Allied ministers expressed particular appreciation for Ukraine's active support for ongoing operations. It is the only Partner country to actively support all NATO-led operations and missions: the maritime counter-terrorist operation in the Mediterranean, the peacekeeping force in Kosovo, the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, and the training mission in Iraq.
Allied ministers also welcomed Ukraine's progress in reforming its defence and security sectors, and encouraged continued implementation of further effective reforms. They noted progress made in the framework of the NATO/Partnership for Peace Trust Fund project for the destruction of Ukraine's stockpiles of small arms, light weapons and man-portable air defence systems -- the largest demilitarization project of its kind in the world -- as well as NATO-supported initiatives to retrain and resettle former military personnel in Ukraine.
After the meeting, Minister Khandogiy expressed the Ukrainian delegation's satisfaction with the meeting as well as with NATO's decision to hold a summit-level meeting of the NUC in Bucharest in April 2008.