Update: 18-Feb-2000 NATO Newspages

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Robertson tours Partner countries

After completing a tour of Allied countries, Secretary General Lord Robertson has begun a programme of visits to NATO Partner countries with a two-day trip to Ukraine.

Lord Robertson, who went to Kyiv and Odessa during his January 27 and 28 visit, met President Kuchma and other members of the Ukrainian leadership for talks which focused on the state of the special relationship between the Alliance and Ukraine.

In a speech to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry's Diplomatic Academy he explained NATO policy on Kosovo. While acknowledging the huge headway which NATO-Ukraine relations had made, he urged Ukraine to make full use of the opportunities for practical cooperation offered by the Distinctive Partnership signed in July 1997.

He singled out the importance for Ukraine of defence reform - an area in which it is working with NATO - and increased military cooperation through Partnership for Peace.

"A self-confident, democratic Ukraine is a strategic benefit for the whole of this continent. We share a common interest in making Ukraine strong, stable and secure," he said.

Early in March the relationship will receive a further boost when senior representatives of the 19 Allies visit Kyiv for the first meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission held in Ukraine.

Lord Robertson, a former British minister of defence who took over the top Alliance job last October, is scheduled to visit other Partner countries in the coming months including Bulgaria and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (1).

A common theme of these visits will be to stress the importance of practical cooperation among NATO and non-NATO countries through the Partnership for Peace programme, a process which boosts transparency and mutual trust to the benefit of security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic region.

  1. Turkey recognises the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name

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