by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the opening ceremony of the EADRCC Exercise ''Ukraine 2015''
Ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome to ‘Ukraine 2015’.
An exercise hosted jointly by NATO’s Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre. And the State Emergency Service of Ukraine.
Many of you may wonder why the Secretary General of NATO is here opening a mainly civilian exercise.
NATO exists to keep people safe. And that includes disaster management.
NATO has been hosting these exercises for 15 years. And this is the third time it has been held in Ukraine.
Every year, nations come together from across the Alliance, and from around the world. Not to learn how to fight. But to learn how to work together in the face of catastrophe. To put theory into practice. To save people’s lives.
Sadly, this country is no stranger to disaster. Natural or manmade. Whatever the circumstances, whatever the cause, Ukraine and its partners need to be ready and able to respond as effectively as possible.
This is not a military exercise. It is an opportunity for first responders – from Allies and from partner-nations – to work together.With search and rescue. Specialist chemical, biological and radiological teams.
As well as with police, medical and fire departments.
I would like to thank you, Mr President, for hosting this exercise. And to pay tribute to the many Ukrainian people who have made it possible. By hosting this exercise, you are showing that Ukraine wants to contribute to the safety of the European people. And to the security of the Euro-Atlantic area.
This exercise can make a real and significant difference to the way we respond to real life emergencies. Be they in Ukraine or in any other Allied or Partner country.
The experience that people will have here will test them to their limits. It will make them better at what they do. And it will make us all safer.
We are joined this week by observers from the United Nations and the European Union. As well as others from as far away as Jordan and Japan. I hope we can all learn from each other this week.
The experience gained at previous exercises has saved lives around the world. Following Hurricane Katrina, in 2005. After the Pakistan earthquake that same year. And after the floods in Bosnia & Herzegovina in 2014.
The lessons we learn this week will also go on to save more lives in the years to come.
And with that, I am happy to join you Mr President, in opening ‘Ukraine 2015.’