of the NATO-
and NATO-
at Foreign

16 Dec. 1997

Opening Statement

by the Secretary General

Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen. Welcome to this historic meeting, the first session of the NATO-Ukraine Commission at Ministerial level. Let me extend a particular welcome to Minister Udovenko and to his colleague Minister Kalchenko, who is here for the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between NATO and Ukraine on Civil Emergency Planning.

The NATO-Ukraine Commission was created by the Charter on a Distinctive Partnership between NATO and Ukraine, signed at the Madrid Summit in July by Allied Heads of State and Government and President Kuchma. It reflects our joint belief that, together, NATO and Ukraine have a unique opportunity to help shape the future of Euro-Atlantic security. Over the last few months, we have already made substantial progress in giving life to the Charter.

Ukraine was one of the very first Partners to open a full-fledged mission at NATO Headquarters under the provisions of the Brussels agreement.

The NATO Information and Documentation Centre in Kyiv - in operation since last May - has played a key role in enhancing information efforts in Ukraine. The untimely death of the Centre's first director, Roman Lishchynski, has left a deep void. But his pioneering work has laid a solid basis on which we are determined to build.

Today, we will take stock of our cooperation to date. We will approve a substantive work plan for 1998, which covers consultation and practical cooperation in many areas, including with the newly established Peacekeeping Coordination Centre in Kyiv. A prominent element of our work plan will be the Joint Working Group on Defence Reform, which will focus on civil-military relations, and help familiarise Ukrainian officials with the process of defence planning and budgeting in the armed forces of Allied nations.

As these examples demonstrate NATO-Ukraine relations are part of a dynamic process - a process that will continue to grow.

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