No. 4 - July-
Aug. 1997
Vol. 45 - pp. 22-25

Charter with NATO will help Ukraine
regain its rightful place in Europe

Donald McConnell

NATO's Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs


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.

President Leonid Kuchma (left) with Secretary General Solana at the signing ceremony of the NATO-Ukraine Charter in Madrid on 9 July.
(NATO Photo - 27Kb)
At the Madrid Summit, this disposition was further strengthened. There, on 9 July 1997, NATO Heads of State and Government and Ukrainian President Kuchma signed the "Charter on a Distinctive Partnership Between NATO and Ukraine". This document is a testimony to the Alliance's recognition of the potential of Ukraine to play a strong role in European security and to develop a real, substantive cooperative relationship with NATO.

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.

"Today is a truly historic day in NATO-Ukraine relations. Today's signing of the Charter between NATO and Ukraine is the beginning of a new era in NATO-Ukraine relations and a visible symbol of a new Europe."

Secretary General Javier Solana
Madrid, 9 July 1997 Original

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.

"Madrid 1997 will undoubtedly go down in history as a city where the dividing line left by the Cold War in the centre of Europe was eliminated"

President Leonid Kuchma
Madrid, 9 July 1997 Original

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 relationship

A 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.

Ukrainian IFOR peacekeepers man a checkpoint outside of Sarajevo last year. (NATO photo 46Kb)
With this tragic past now firmly behind it, Ukraine has embarked upon a long and demanding process of reform and adjustment. In so doing, it has made a number of key decisions that foreclose any return to the past. Ukraine's decision to adhere to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapons state is one such decision. Resolving with Russia the difficult issues of the Black Sea Fleet and Sevastopol is another. These decisions confirm Ukraine's determination to pursue an active cooperative approach to its security.

A medical evacuation exercise during the Cooperative Neighbour PfP exercise in Lviv, Ukraine, last July, the first PfP exercise on Ukrainian soil.
(Photo R.L., Kyiv, 23Kb)

This cooperative approach has been extended beyond Ukraine's immediate neighbours. In the Balkans, Ukrainian troops are serving alongside NATO's as part of the international presence in Bosnia, helping to bring long-term peace to a volatile region. And through its membership in the Partnership for Peace and the new Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), Ukraine contributes to the establishment of a broader security culture for the entire Euro-Atlantic area. In short, Ukraine has become an important player in European security. It is thus only natural that relations between Ukraine and NATO have been developing so fruitfully.

First steps in our cooperation

Practical arrangements for NATO-Ukraine consultations
Consultation and cooperation provisions of the Charter on a Distinctive Partnership Between NATO and Ukraine include:
  • Meetings between NATO and Ukraine at the level of the North Atlantic Council at intervals to be mutually agreed
  • NATO-Ukraine meetings with appropriate NATO Committees as mutually agreed
  • Reciprocal high level visits
  • Mechanisms for military cooperation, including periodic meetings with NATO Chiefs of Defence and activities within the framework of the enhanced Partnership for Peace programme
  • A military liaison mission of Ukraine will be established as part of a Ukrainian mission to NATO in Brussels. NATO retains the right reciprocally to establish a NATO military liaison mission in Kyiv
  • Meetings will normally take place at NATO headquarters in Brussels, but under exceptional circumstances, may be convened elsewhere, including in Ukraine, as mutually agreed. Meetings will take place on the basis of an agreed calendar
  • The North Atlantic Council will meet not less than twice a year with Ukraine as the NATO-Ukraine Commission. The NATO-Ukraine Commission will not duplicate the functions of other mechanisms described above, but will meet to assess broadly the implementation of the relationship, survey planning for the future, and suggest ways to improve or further develop cooperation between NATO and Ukraine.

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 partnership

Given 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 forward

Like 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.

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