Updated: 14-Jan-2004 NATO Speeches


13 Jan. 2004

Joint point de presse

with NATO Secretary General de Hoop Scheffer
and Ukrainian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Kostyantyn Gryshchenko

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Jaap de Hoop Scheffer: Thank you very much. It was our first meeting in my new capacity but we had already met... I had already met Minister Gryshchenko in a different capacity and we have had a very useful, useful discussion first of all of course underlining the great importance the Alliance attaches and I personally attach to the relationship between NATO and Ukraine.

We have of course the NATO-Ukraine Commission and I have told the minister that also under my leadership this Alliance attaches great importance to a very constructive cooperation and collaboration with Ukraine, working on subject of common interests, that's the first leg. The second element of course was the valuable contribution Ukraine is making to different operations, may I mention Kosovo, may I mention Iraq, I think Ukraine is ready to participate also under difficult circumstances and I consider that again as a very positive sign indeed.

Of course we have also discussed the internal political situation in Ukraine and I have told Minister Gryshchenko that the Allies are not without worry about developments as far as the media are concerned. I have said that the Allies very much hope that the upcoming elections at the end of 2004 will be free and fair elections because that's, after all, is also an important yardstick by which NATO-Ukraine relations are being measured.

The Minister has given me an exposé on the development of the internal situation in Ukraine and finally we have discussed Memorandums of Understanding which should be completed soon I hope on different subjects.

To sum up, we cannot underestimate the importance of NATO-Ukraine relations. I have had a kind invitation of the President of Ukraine transferred to me by the Foreign Minister of visiting Kiev, something which I will certainly do at a certain stage and we have let's said continued the tracks left by my predecessor Lord Robinson in NATO-Ukraine relationship and I think you'll see further hard work on this relationship in the interests of both parties, certainly in the interests of Ukraine but also in the interests of NATO.

Thank you very much indeed. Minister please.

Kostyantyn Gryshchenko: Well thank you. Thank you Secretary General. For me it's a great pleasure to be again in NATO where I spent some time before as Ambassador to NATO for my country and in this occasion was a very special one because it was the first time that I met my good colleague in his new capacity and clearly we touched upon all the major points which are of concern to Ukraine.

That is, what can we achieve during this year? How far our own cooperation meets the expectations of both sides? Whether the goodwill could be translated into something tangible?

We have a common understanding of that... for that we need hard work and that is something that we will be doing on the Ukrainian side. For us it is important to continue political dialogue, to meet regularly and to understand that jointly we can achieve more. Thank you.

Questions and answers

Q (Deutsch Weller): Mr. de Hoop Scheffer I would like to ask you are you worried about the current political situation in Ukraine and are you going to visit Ukraine this year?

de Hoop Scheffer: I have said already in my brief introduction that Allies look with concern to some internal developments in Ukraine. The Minister has given me an exposé. I mean the intensity of Ukraine-NATO relations has as a logical consequence that we also discuss these kinds of subjects, on this side of the spectrum so to speak and on your second question yes, I have gladly accepted the invitation of the President of Ukraine to go to Ukraine and I have of course to see when that fits into my schedule which, as you can assume as a new incoming Secretary General is an extremely busy one, to visit member countries invitees but given the fact that I personally attach great importance to Ukraine-NATO relationships you may rest assured that I'll go to Kiev as soon as possible.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General I would like to ask you, Ukraine would be invited to the Summit to Istanbul this year, this spring?

de Hoop Scheffer: We have not... we have also discussed this briefly, we have not as Allies decided the exact format of the Istanbul Summit so I can't answer your question yet but it will certainly be one of the subjects which is going to be discussed in the run up to the Istanbul Summit at the end of June. But I can't give you a complete answer on your question now.

[Question in Ukrainian]

Q (Reuters): For the Minister, I wonder could you tell us how you responded to the concerns that were expressed by some of the Allies about the internal developments in Ukraine particularly with regard to the prospect for free and fair elections?

Gryshchenko: Well I simply don't see why there should be concerns about free and fair elections as such, what is important is that... is to understand that Ukraine is a democracy, it is a divisional democracy where a situation can clearly be improved but for that you need to understand also some of the basic facts.

One of the basic facts, for example for the mass media, freedom is the ability to have its own financial basis and the financial basis is also clearly linked to a situation in the economy. If you have enough receipts from advertisements for example, you can feel yourself much more self assured as a mass media outlet.

On the other hand if you look at the choices for any Ukrainian at the newsstand you'll have the multitude of choices from all the political spectrum and I must say that some of the... some of the newspapers who are very critical have a major circulation like 500,000 for a country of 50 million people is very substantial so it is a situation where democracy is not in question it is how to achieve the highest standards of democracy which is the plank which is the target which we all wish to achieve.

For that we need hard work and we are ready to work together.

Thank you.

de Hoop Scheffer: Thank you very much.

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