Statement to the press
by NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer at the press conference following the meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council at the level of Heads of State and Government
Good morning. Let me say that I'm very pleased and so are all the alliance leaders to welcome President Yushchenko to his first Summit meeting at the NATO Headquarters.
President Yushchenko, as was said around the table many, many times just a minute ago, you and millions of your compatriots- millions of compatriots and you have demonstrated how passionately the democratic values that underpin this alliance are very much alive and are felt in Ukraine as well.
I was a witness of these uplifting emotions during your memorable inauguration ceremony in Kiev in that sea of orange we saw there and we saw there before. And I can tell you that this passion and this devotion to democracy cannot be ignored and will not be ignored.
You yourself said on the day of your inauguration that deep reforms await Ukraine to improve the lives of the Ukrainian people and let me assure you that NATO is ready to work with you, to support you, and to help you build a better future.
All Allies are committed- are fully committed, to a rich and progressively stronger partnership with Ukraine.
And this was clearly the sentiment as Allied leaders have expressed it at the meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission today, just a moment ago. And all leaders also welcomed, and that's an element we should not forget, Ukraine's continuing and very substantial contributions to NATO's peacekeeping operations and the international fight against terrorism.
President Yushchenko, you set out today in the face of alliance leaders your reform plans. They're ambitious, they will not be easy to implement but NATO wants to help and in the framework of the NATO-Ukraine Commission we have an ambitious Action Plan containing significant political, defence and other objectives; and we will sharpen and we will refocus our ongoing cooperation with Ukraine in line with your priorities, in line with the priorities of the new administration and of you Mr. President; and the implementation of the objectives enshrined in our existing cooperation framework will help Ukraine in this way to pursue its integration aspirations. Those aspirations for Euro-Atlantic integration we share and we support.
And I think it is definitely no exaggeration to say that this Summit marked the beginning of a new chapter in our relations.
Within our continued dialogue, we'll have other high level opportunities to carry forward our cooperation in the short term.
The Foreign Ministers will meet in a few weeks in the context of the NATO Foreign Ministerial meeting in Vilnius, which will be in the middle of April, and that will be followed by a Defence Ministers meeting who will meet in Brussels in June.
Let me cite one concrete example of NATO support which will be provided by the unprecedented NATO PfP Partnership for Peace Trust Fund; and this Trust Fund will be the single largest demilitarization project in the world involving millions of euros and dollars contributed by Allies, led by the United States of America, and this will result in the elimination of enormous quantities of surplus munitions which pose a significant security problem for Ukrainians as well as small arms and live weapons including MANPADS (Man-portable Air Defence Systems).
This will have a real benefit for public safety in Ukraine and I believe it also serves as an example and further evidence for NATO's determination to deepen our partnership with Ukraine.
And, in saying that, when I say deepen our partnership I add that of course Ukraine's future, Ukraine's democratic future, as so fiercely supported by the President and by the people of Ukraine, should never be seen as some kind of contest between East and West.
Ukraine's future lies in Ukraine. A future of ever-stronger democracy, rule of law and prosperity and NATO is there ready to help. That was the clear signal Allied leaders have given.
We have to go work. We have to go to see how we can build in President Yushchenko's administration priorities in our NATO-Ukraine Action Plan; and then we're going to work on that basis from the full support.
And I said, when I was closing the meeting a moment ago, it is not in the interests in the first place of the NATO Presidents, Prime Ministers, Heads of State that we give this report; it's in the interest of the Ukrainian people. They showed the way, they showed the way to the values which have always been dear to NATO, they have shown us the way to democracy.