At the
of the
for Strategic

9 July 1998


by Dr. Javier Solana, Secretary General of NATO

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is, I am quite certain, the first time a Secretary General of NATO sets foot in your city. You all know the reason why. But times have changed, and fundamentally so. - I very much welcome this opportunity to discover a new part of your large and beautiful country. For me it is a real pleasure to be here today.

From a period of breathtaking changes in Europe Ukraine has emerged as an independent state. We owe to you the fact that those fearsome nuclear missiles, the SS-18s as we call them, are no longer made here. And the former director of the factory has gone on to serve his country in a far different way - as President of a democratic and sovereign Ukraine.

The famous rocket factory, Pivdenmash, still produces missiles which, I am told, continue to be among the best in the world. But today you are putting your experience to work in a joint project with Norway and the United States - two NATO countries - and Russia in an effort to build new systems for launching satellites. I wish you every success - and a healthy bank balance as a result.

Your country occupies an important place in European security. And Ukraine is contributing actively towards making the new Europe a safer place. Let me mention your policy of renunciation of nuclear weapons, Ukraine's reconciliation and good neighbourly relations with countries in the region, and finally your decision to build a new and special partnership with NATO. Moreover, all of this you achieved in the face of a terrible catastrophe - Chernobyl - which continues to place a heavyyburden on your society and your country.

Let me say a few words on all three major achievements I mentioned.

When Ukraine willingly gave up the option of nuclear weapons, and signed up to the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapons state, the world applauded. Considering the heightened tension and concern in South Asia following the Indian and Pakistani nuclear testing, Ukraine's decision is seen today as all the more wise. Your country has shown the political leadership and maturity to put Europe's wider security interests above the temptation of becoming a new nuclear power. You can be and you should be proud of that.

Your determination to establish good relations with your neighbours is equally a forward-looking and important contribution to European stability and security. Good, peaceful and cooperative relations between Ukraine and Russia are essential building blocks of stability for the region. Resolving peacefully the difficult issues concerning the Black Sea Fleet and the status of Sevastopol were significant achievements in this regard. So is the Rada's ratification of the Ukraine-Russia Friendship and Cooperation Treaty. Soon, we hope, the Duma will follow suit.

The settlement of the Crimea issue, Ukraine's treaties with Romania and with Poland are further examples of Ukraine's ability to cooperate. So is the fact that Ukraine is one of the guarantors, along with Russia, of the agreement in Trans-Nistria, Moldova.

But let me dwell on the third example of Ukraine's constructive role as a security player: its new partnership with NATO.

Just as Ukraine has changed beyond recognition, the NATO of today is not the NATO of the past. Instead of concentrating exclusively on defence of our territory, the Alliance is now focusing on the contribution it can make to help manage regional crises and promote a broad network of security cooperation across the Euro-Atlantic area.

The two major instruments NATO has created for this purpose are the Partnership for Peace Programme and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. And Ukraine is a prominent member of both. Ukraine was also one of the first countries to open a full-fledged mission to NATO. Your country has already participated in dozens of PfP exercises and training activities.

In Bosnia, Ukraine has been involved from the start in the international community's efforts to create and support a lasting peace. Ukraine today contributes a mechanised infantry battalion and a helicopter squadron on call. This is a very useful - and welcome - contribution.

Given this degree of fruitful cooperation it was a natural step for both sides to seek a deeper relationship. President Kuchma, the Heads of State and Government of all NATO countries and I took this step exactly one year ago. In Madrid we signed the NATO-Ukraine Charter, which establishes a new, distinctive partnership between us.

Let me take a moment to give you an idea of what this new partnership means.

First, it means consultation. A NATO-Ukraine Commission has been set up. It focuses on consultation on security issues - for example, military strategy, defence policy, and proliferation.

Second, the NATO-Ukraine partnership means cooperation. Economic security, defence industrial re-structuring and conversion, re-training of retired military officers, and civil emergency planning - these are just some of the areas covered by this year's Work Plan. We have also set up a Joint Working Group designed to encourage and support the ongoing defence reform in your country.

But it is not enough to do good, we also need to talk about it. That is why the NATO Information and Documentation Centre in Kyiv is so important. It was the first and remains the only such centre that NATO has opened in any Partner country. The Centre will help ensure that you - the Ukrainian people - are informed about, and supportive of, this new Partnership. It also will provide information about the changes that have occurred in NATO and why we speak today about the new NATO.

Ukraine has made great strides. But there is always room for improvement and we can always do more. Let me conclude my remarks today with some reflections on this point.

Today, Ukraine's primary security concern is the economy - that is, to underpin democracy with economic growth and an increased standard of living for all Ukrainians.

However, for any measures to succeed courage and leadership are required, no less in the Rada than in the Government. Parliament is the key to any functioning democracy. The Rada, it seems to me, bears a special responsibility for promoting and monitoring progress along the path of economic reform and thus helping to create a climate conducive to economic investment and prosperity. With such reform, Ukraine will also be in a better position to benefit from the support of European institutions.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Over the last decade, we have seen a sea-change in European security relations. NATO and Ukraine have been major contributors to that change.

Not long ago this famous factory would have been "off limits" to me. Standing here in front of you today reinforces my conviction that in the Europe of the 21st century, nothing should be "off limits" anymore. We all share the same continent. We share the risks of instability but also the possibilities that flow from progress, wealth and cooperation. I invite you, let us all work together for a better future.

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