Updated: 29-Jun-2004 NATO Speeches


29 June 2004

Introductory remarks

by NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
at the meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission
at the level of Heads of State and Government

NATO Istanbul Summit

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

President Kuchma, I would like first of all to welcome you and your delegation to our meeting here this morning. I am very happy to have this opportunity to hold the NATO-Ukraine Commission at the level of Heads of State and Government.

Let me open this meeting by saying that Allies remain firmly committed to a robust, effective and intensifying partnership with Ukraine. Nearly two years ago in Prague, in adopting the NATO-Ukraine Action Plan, NATO and Ukraine agreed to joint principles and objectives in the political, economic, military, security and defence spheres. If fully implemented, the benchmarks and actions contained in the Action Plan will help Ukraine pursue its aspirations for Euro-Atlantic integration.

Ukraine’s ultimate success in this effort is in the interest of everyone represented at this table. In peacekeeping efforts in the Balkans; in the international fight against terrorism; in enhancing the Alliance’s ability to carry out its mission in Afghanistan; as well as in peace support missions in Iraq and elsewhere, Ukraine has demonstrated her capacity to serve as a producer – indeed an exporter – of security. Allies recognise and appreciate this.

We also welcome today a further step forward in our co-operation against the terrorist threat, with Ukraine's offer of support to Operation Active Endeavour.

At informal high-level consultations in Warsaw last month, Defence Minister Marchuk was able to review with Allied colleagues the quite substantial steps that are being undertaken in the sphere of defence and security sector reform.

We also have welcomed the entry into force of the Memorandum of Understanding on Host nation Support and the signature of the Memorandum of Understanding on Strategic Airlift.

While we welcome the progress that has been made, Allies also have underscored that much work remains to be done.

In adopting the Action Plan, Ukraine has undertaken a firm commitment to the common values that underpin the Alliance. It is no secret that Allies have had serious questions with respect to how this commitment has been implemented. In some cases, as in questions related to export controls, substantial steps have been taken to address these concerns. In others, such as media freedom and the conduct of free and fair elections, important questions remain.

I would expect a very frank discussion of these issues to continue here today, as befits genuine partners. I also would expect many Allied Heads of State and Government to underscore the importance of the ongoing Presidential campaign as an opportunity for Ukraine to demonstrate to the world her intentions in this area.

To President Kuchma, and to the Ukrainian people, I would say that our interest in these matters should be understood as a sign of our deep commitment to this partnership, and our willingness to do whatever we can to help Ukraine assume her rightful place as an integral part of the Euro-Atlantic community.

With this, ladies and gentlemen, I give the floor to President Kuchma.

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