Statement to the media by the NATO Secretary General
at the Press Conference held at NATO HQ, Brussels after the meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission
We have just met in the North Atlantic Council, and the NATO-Ukraine Commission, to discuss the events unfolding in Ukraine.
NATO Allies have agreed a statement which sets out our position.
We condemn Russia’s military escalation in Crimea. We express our grave concern regarding the authorisation, by the Russian Parliament, of the use of the armed forces of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine.
Military action against Ukraine by forces of the Russian Federation is a breach of international law. It contravenes the principles of the NATO-Russia Council and the Partnership for Peace.
Russia must respect its obligations under the United Nations Charter and the spirit and principles of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, on which peace and stability in Europe rest.
We call on Russia to de-escalate tensions.
We call upon Russia to honour all its international commitments, to withdraw its forces to its bases, and to refrain from any interference elsewhere in Ukraine.
We urge both parties to immediately seek a peaceful resolution through dialogue, through the dispatch of international observers under the auspices of the United Nations Security Council or the OSCE.
We emphasise the importance of an inclusive political process in Ukraine based on democratic values, respect for human rights, minorities and the rule of law which fulfills the democratic aspirations of the entire Ukrainian people.
Ukraine is a valued partner for NATO and a founding member of the Partnership for Peace. NATO Allies will continue to support Ukrainian sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, and the right of the Ukrainian people to determine their own future, without outside interference.
We have just met in the NATO-Ukraine Commission, at Ukraine’s request. And we intend to engage with Russia in the NATO-Russia Council.
Today, NATO made clear that we stand by Ukraine as a valued partner, and we stand by the norms and principles of international law.
And with that, I am ready to take your questions.
OANA LUNGESCU (NATO Spokesperson): Over there.
Q: Marco Galdi, ANSA, Secretary, is there any country that considered the option of demanding Article 4 activation because of the threat to the stability and peace in Europe that we have been referring as the initial down step? Thank you.
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: No one has requested to activate Article 4 at this stage. But obviously we have ongoing consultations. Actually, NATO Allies consult on a daily basis.
Q: What does it mean you're going to engage in the NATO-Russia Council? Did you call for one? And do you expect the Russians to answer the call? How do you characterize in this moment the quality of the relations with Russia?
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: We have very clear rules as regards the NATO-Russia Council. According to the founding documents, a meeting in the NATO-Russia Council will be convened if the chairman of the council convenes the meeting or upon request from a member of the council. And I have heard many members of the council asking for a meeting.
OANA LUNGESCU: One last question, lady over there.
Q: So there is a possibility of Russia... NATO-Russia Council in the nearby future, in the coming week?
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: Certainly, there is a possibility that we will have a NATO-Russia Council meeting.
OANA LUNGESCU: And one very last question over there.
Q: Is there a possibility of foreign... NATO foreign ministerial meeting tomorrow as most of the ministers are in town and John Kerry is very close, in Paris?
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN: I doubt that there will be a foreign ministers meeting in NATO for practical and logistical reasons it seems impossible to have a foreign ministers meeting at this stage. But of course we also keep that option open.
OANA LUNGESCU: Thank you very much.