Charter with NATO will help Ukraine
The Charter on a Distinctive Partnership between NATO and Ukraine, signed at the Madrid summit on 9 July, opens up new opportunities for the two sides to consult and cooperate on political and security issues. The Charter demonstrates the Alliance's support for Ukraine as it regains its rightful place in Europe after a tragic past of foreign domination. But the new mechanisms provided by the Charter, in particular the NATO-Ukraine Commission which will meet periodically to find ways of pushing the relationship forward, must be put to full use if the partnership is to flourish.
The emergence of new democratic states is a feature of the new security order. Their ability to survive and flourish is a key test for all of the institutions and individual nations alike. In this sense, Ukraine occupies a crucial place in Europe. And it explains why all European institutions, including NATO, view an independent, stable and democratic Ukraine as being of strategic importance for the development of the continent as a whole.
In the Charter, NATO allies reaffirm their support for Ukrainian sovereignty and independence, its territorial integrity and democratic development. They also state their firm belief that Ukraine's economic prosperity and its status as a non-nuclear weapons state, as well as the principle of inviolability of frontiers, are key factors of stability and security in Europe.
The Charter lists a broad range of areas for consultation and cooperation. It envisages joint seminars, working groups and other cooperative programmes covering topics such as civil emergency planning and disaster preparedness, civil-military relations, and democratic control of the armed forces. Cooperation will also include defence planning, budgeting, policy, strategy and national security concepts, and defence conversion. Furthermore, we will discuss NATO-Ukraine military cooperation and interoperability, economic aspects of security, science and technology issues, environmental security issues, including nuclear safety, aerospace research and development, and civil-military coordination of air traffic management and control.
Other areas that we will explore together are armaments cooperation, military training, including PfP exercises on Ukrainian territory, and NATO support for the Polish-Ukrainian peacekeeping battalion. We will also discuss ways of promoting defence cooperation between Ukraine and its neighbours. Finally, a military liaison mission of Ukraine will be established as part of a Ukrainian mission to NATO in Brussels.
Foundations of a new relationshipA historian once remarked that while nature has been generous to Ukraine, history has not. Despite - or perhaps because of - its natural riches, Ukraine has suffered more devastation and foreign domination than most other countries in Europe.
First steps in our cooperation
NATO's relationship with Ukraine began soon after the country achieved independence in 1991. Ukraine joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC), thus demonstrating its commitment to a cooperative approach to its security. Ukraine also signed up to the Partnership for Peace programme in February 1994, determined to play an active role in it. A Ukrainian liaison officer now works in the Manfred Wrner wing at NATO Headquarters, and another officer has been stationed at the Partnership Coordination Cell (PCC) in Mons.
Ukraine has participated in several exercises in the Partnership for Peace framework and hosted a number of PfP exercises on its own territory. We have also cooperated extensively in the field of disaster relief and civil emergency planning. Exercise Cooperative Neighbour in July 1997 is an example of where Ukraine has joined other PfP countries, both allies and partners, to develop skills and capabilities that could be called upon in a humanitarian emergency.
Developing a NATO-Ukraine partnershipGiven Ukraine's active involvement in European security, it was only natural that its relationship with NATO would not remain static, but reflect the distinctive contribution and position of Ukraine. Accordingly, following President Kuchma's visit to NATO in June 1995, work was undertaken to raise NATO-Ukraine relations to a qualitatively new level.
On 14 September 1995, Ukraine - represented by Foreign Minister Udovenko - and NATO issued a Joint Press Statement detailing their new relationship. In this document, the general principles of NATO-Ukraine relations, in Partnership for Peace and in other areas, were spelled out. An implementation paper was agreed in March 1996, and the first 16+1 consultation at the Political Committee-level took place one month later. High-level meetings have continued throughout 1996 and the beginning of 1997.
The cordial relationship between NATO and Ukraine was underlined by Secretary General Solana's visit to Ukraine in April 1996. On his second visit in May 1997, he inaugurated the NATO Information and Documentation Centre in Kyiv, the first of its kind in any partner country. The Centre is playing a crucial role in disseminating information on NATO's policies, responding to an increasing thirst for information about the Alliance. This interest in information on NATO is also confirmed by the fact that the number of information-related events in Ukraine, as well as that of Ukrainian groups visiting NATO Headquarters, is increasing rapidly.
With the intensification of NATO-Ukraine ties came the idea of formalising that relationship. After several months of detailed discussion and exchange between senior NATO and Ukrainian officials, agreement was reached on a "Charter on a Distinctive Partnership Between NATO and Ukaine", which has now been endorsed at the highest level by our respective countries.
The way forwardLike any agreement of its kind, the NATO-Ukraine Charter needs to be implemented. The partnership will grow by making the fullest use of the new mechanisms provided by the Charter. To ensure that this is the case, the North Atlantic Council will periodically meet with Ukraine as the NATO-Ukraine Commission. The NATO-Ukraine Commission will assess the implementation of the relationship and suggest ways to further develop our cooperation.
On the Parliamentary level, NATO and Ukraine will encourage expanded dialogue and cooperation between the North Atlantic Assembly and the Ukrainian Parliament, the Verkhovna Rada. A new Europe must be built from the ground up, and it is essential not to limit our dialogue to the military and civilian security experts and therefore to include parliamentary representatives of our respective nations.
The new NATO-Ukraine Charter is a major step forward. Like the other decisions and initiatives taken at the Madrid Summit, the Charter underlines NATO's crucial role in contributing to new security relationships in the Euro-Atlantic area. It also underlines Ukraine's increasing contribution to wider European security and stability. In the Ukrainian language, "Ukraine" means "borderland". But Ukraine is no longer a borderland: it has ceased to be at the periphery of Europe. Today, our borders are defined by shared values rather than natural boundaries. A stable, democratic and independent Ukraine is rejoining the European mainstream. The new NATO-Ukraine Charter is evidence of the support the Atlantic Alliance is giving to Ukraine in regaining its rightful place.