At the


7 May 1997


by the Secretary General

I am delighted to be in Kyiv today.

The opening up of the Information Office today is a result of months of hard work by NATO and Ukrainian officials. It represents a new phase in our relationship. For some time now, in Brussels, we have been used to visits of senior Ukrainian officials and meetings with Ukrainian diplomats and military officers. The Ukrainian Foreign Minister and Defence Minister also participate frequently in meetings of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council.

The links between Ukraine and NATO are very deep and extensive. Under Partnership for peace, Ukrainian officers are present at our military headquarters in Mons, Belgium and Ukrainian troops regularly meet and exercise with NATO. By working together, out military have got to know one another and learnt to respect each other. In Bosnia, they stand shoulder to shoulder in the same multinational operation, bringing peace where only two years ago there was war.

From today onward, we will have an additional means to increase the understanding between the people of Ukraine and NATO. There will be NATO officials in Kyiv ready to respond to the growing interest in the Alliance by Ukrainian citizens. The purpose of this office is just what its name implies - to provide information on NATO affairs. Its aim is to satisfy a very great thirst in this country for information on the Alliance. NATO and Ukraine expect to formalize our relations in a document to be signed by the time of the NATO Summit in Madrid. It is important, therefore, that NATO becomes fully transparent and understood in this country. The need for good, accurate information about NATO is therefore greater than ever.

Attitudes have changed greatly in recent years. For forty years, NATO was presented intentionally in this part of Europe as a threat and an enemy. NATO has never been a threat to anyone. It is a security organisation, whose members seek to create security and stability together. In recent years NATO has been changing significantly. We recognise that the risks to European security and stability affect everyone on this continent. We can only counter them together.

As the barriers to communication and understanding have fallen, a better understanding of NATO has developed. NATO is organised and directed by its members. We take decisions on a consensus basis. Our policy is agreed by all 16 members. And all 16 members are committed through NATO to work with Ukraine and help her as she further develops as a member of the European family of democracies.

This is a key time in NATO's history. We are preparing to hold a Summit meeting in July in Madrid. Decisions will be taken there on opening up NATO to new members. Invitations will be extended to future new members. We intend, at the same time, to move to the next stage of our cooperative programmes.

We are currently discussing with all our Partners the establishment of a new Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. This new Council will provide the political direction to our cooperation programmes. Partnership for Peace will be simultaneously enhanced to open up greater opportunities for Allies and Partners to work together. By the Summit, we are committed to establishing a distinctive and effective relationship with Ukraine. We are also working on a Charter with Russia which will set out a special relationship also with that great country.

Many people in Ukraine and elsewhere ask why is NATO doing all this? What does NATO expect to achieve? My answer is a simple one. Real security today depends on cooperation between states and institutions. NATO wants to do its part to create a new approach to security. We accept gladly the major contribution which an important country like Ukraine can make.

Let me make a few specific points about Ukraine. A secure and stable Europe depends on respect for the territorial integrity and political independence of every state in the Euro-Atlantic area. It is a remarkable feature of the new Europe that so many ancient countries have re-emerged and are now finding their rightful place alongside their European neighbours. Countries, which once had their roles defined for them, can now expect to determine their own security arrangements.

Ukraine has always had a distinct history. Sometimes its identity was submerged, sometimes threatened, but never extinguished. In 1991, the people of this country reaffirmed their distinctiveness by deciding to determine their own future as a free and independent people. NATO did not hesitate to recognise the choice made by Ukraine and welcomed it into the North Atlantic Cooperation Council as a friend and Partner.

Since 1994, Ukraine has been an active participant in Partnership for Peace. This is a programme of military cooperation which has brought the countries of the Euro-Atlantic area much closer together. There can be no doubt that PfP has been one of the major success stories of recent years. It has established a very hopeful example for the future. The level of cooperation between military forces on this continent is unprecedented. It is an asset which will help ensure that future divisions or misunderstandings are unlikely to re-emerge. Look at what was achieved by multinational cooperation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Two years ago the conflict was still raging. Now that country has a real chance of rebuilding itself in peace and stability. The chance for peace was given to Bosnia by the intervention of NATO and its Partners, working together.

Ukraine is one of the countries which has contributed to the search for peace in Bosnia right from the beginning. Ukrainian soldiers were part of the UNPROFOR operation distributing humanitarian aid and food while the country was at war. Ukraine participated in IFOR, the peacekeeping force organised by NATO. There are currently 400 Ukrainians in the Stabilisation Force in Bosnia, as well as 105 men in Eastern Slavonia. This is a major and generous contribution, worthy of a country like Ukraine. In NATO, we recognise and appreciate the high qualities of the Ukrainian military.

The Alliance acknowledges that Ukraine has an important and even unique place in the European security order. An independent democratic and stable Ukraine is one of the key factors of stability and security in Europe. Its geographical position gives it a major role and responsibility. Ukraine's decision to renounce nuclear weapons and to accede to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty greatly contributed to the strengthening of security and stability in Europe. It has earned Ukraine special stature in the world community.

NATO attaches a special importance to its relationship with Ukraine. In 1995, NATO and Ukraine jointly issued a statement in which we agreed to strengthen and expand our relationship. I have already mentioned the areas of progress; in Partnership for Peace, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in our frequent diplomatic and military meetings.

Now we want to go further. We want to develop a document which will see the NATO-Ukraine relationship go beyond what we have today. Our officials are presently working on the arrangements for what I would call a distinctive relationship, recognising Ukraine's international stature and its undoubted potential to a play a strong role in European security.

I hope we can conclude our negotiations on a distinctive relationship as soon as possible. It will give us the arrangements needed to cooperate together in the interest of European stability and, if necessary, consult and coordinate together in a crisis.

NATO's desire to develop our Partnership applies to all our Partners, including Russia. Achieving a relationship between Russia and the Alliance is of special importance. Both have great contributions to make to European security. A close partnership with Russia would recognise that.

I was given the task of negotiating a NATO-Russia document by NATO foreign ministers last December. We have met in five rounds of discussions. Only last night, I was in Luxembourg with Minister Primakov. Each time there has been progress. We are now working jointly on the text of an agreement. My aim is to conclude the text as soon as possible. An end-May meeting, in Paris, of all NATO leaders and President Yeltsin to sign it, is envisaged.

Of course, there are some difficulties still to overcome. We understand Russia's concerns about NATO enlargement, and we have made a number of clarifications of our intentions. As a defensive Alliance, we threaten no one. The Allies will remain capable at all times of fulfilling our collective defence obligations. Yet, this should not be considered in a negative way by the Russians.

NATO's enlargement does not require NATO to station nuclear weapons on the territory of new members, or reverse the reductions that have been underway for many years now. Nor does it require the same level of conventional forces or the kinds of forward presence in our conventional force posture that was necessary in the past. The Allies are ready to initiate further reductions in the conventional ceilings allowed under the CFE Treaty and have put forward a far reaching set of proposals to adapt this treaty to the new security reality of Europe.

The result we want from Russia is the same as for Ukraine: increased cooperation, friendship and mutual trust. A real Partnership between NATO and Russia represents a unique opportunity to work together in the wider interest of European security as a whole.

It should be clear from what I have said that we are in a formative period of European history. Such arrangements were in the past unthinkable, and even institutionally impossible. Now everything is so different. Institutions, like NATO, are ideal instruments for developing closer links between countries. For decades, NATO members learnt to work ever more closely together in their common security interest. They want to develop close relationships in the wider interest of a peaceful, stable Europe.

In other words, the Allies want to use NATO to bring Europe further together. There is a real chance open to us to create the kind of Europe everyone wants: peaceful, stable, cooperative, prosperous. To realise our hopes for the future, the foundations have to be put in place now. Real, long-term security can only come from close cooperation now and in the years to come.

Let me however emphasise one key point: the importance of arms control and, particularly, the CFE Treaty. If this continent is ever to escape from its historic antagonisms and recurrent conflicts, then there must continue to be an effective control on levels of military armaments. There must be a system of confidence-building and verification of equipment levels.

The CFE Treaty remains of the highest importance for the future security of the whole continent. The key benefit for everyone is that it sets a limit to equipment, and prevents destabilising concentrations of forces. The Treaty has to be modernised. Ukraine will also benefit from this adaptation. But its key features must be preserved for the sake of everyone's security.

As Secretary General of NATO, I have come here to show the importance the Allies attach to Ukraine. I want to give a boost to the talks we are having on a new agreement between us. But, of course, NATO is just one institution in Europe. We cannot do the work of others. Nor do we see ourselves as working separately from other institutions. We see our role as entirely compatible, and mutually supportive. The building of a peaceful and stable Europe concerns all institutions of Europe.

All the organisations of Europe have to adapt to take full advantage of the new cooperative possibilities of today. The OSCE, the European Union, the Council of Europe and NATO have all been adapting. However, these institutions have yet to realise their full potential. The benefit of democracy, of economic development, of security, must be spread across the continent. By working together, the institutions can do this.

The next generation of Europeans will grow up in an entirely different world from the one most of us know. They will find it difficult to understand why Europe was divided for so long. They would find it even more difficult to understand if we did not do everything within our power to erase that legacy, and to make a new start. My visit here is a symbol of the progress made and to continuing progress in the future. I am confident that the next generation will look back to the 1990s as the decade when Europe was put back together again.

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