|Updated: 30-Jun-2004||NATO Speeches|
29 June 2004
by NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
de Hoop Scheffer: We had a very open, frank and constructive discussion with President Kuchma today in the NATO-Ukraine Commission.
We addressed many important issues. Allies expressed appreciation for Ukraine’s very substantial contributions to NATO-led and other international peace support efforts. Ukraine’s participation in KFOR is very welcome. We assessed that operation today. And we discussed Ukraine’s offer to support Operation Active Endeavour in the Mediterranean as well.
We also reviewed our extensive practical co-operation in defence reform and other important areas. Here, Allies and President Kuchma welcomed the recent agreements between NATO and Ukraine on host nations support and strategic airlift, which will only deepen that cooperation.
We also discussed the possible launching of a Partnership for Peace Trust Fund to help Ukraine destroy the surplus munitions, small arms and light weapons. If launched, the project would reduce the threat which these items pose to Ukrainians, and to us all.
All of this shows that the partnership between NATO and Ukraine is healthy and growing, as was foreseen when we adopted the NATO-Ukraine Action Plan at Prague. And Allies again today welcomed Ukraine’s desire to achieve full integration into Euro-Atlantic structures. But we also believe – and Allies made this perfectly clear to President Kuchma – that success in that effort ultimately will require more than troop contributions and defence reform. It will also require firm commitment to the very highest values that underpin the Alliance.
Allies encouraged Ukraine to meet the ambitious objectives it undertook in the Action Plan. They called particular attention to the responsibility of the Ukrainian leadership to strengthen democracy, the rule of law, and freedom of speech and media, paying special attention to the need for a free and fair Presidential election. And they confirmed their determination to support Ukraine in implementing necessary reforms in these and other areas.
This was a valuable meeting. We have tackled all the key issues on our agenda. We have shared opinions honestly and openly. And as a result, I believe we have taken another important step forward in strengthening this important strategic relationship.
Kuchma: Thank you, Mr. Secretary General.
I personally am pretty much satisfied with all of discussion that today we had at the level of NATO-Ukraine (inaudible). As you understand it was confirmed by the statement of Mr. Secretary General that we were discussing not only military and technical co-operation, upcoming presidential elections and the beginning of a democratic process of Ukraine, but some other important issues. And I here support absolutely everything what was said by my colleague.
I take in... into account the fact that our press conference
has been conducted under very complicated working conditions
my remarks on this.
Questions and answers
Q: Mr. President, a question to you. When do you expect Ukraine might join NATO and what kind of response you can expect from Russia?
Kuchma: Well, in terms of Russia this question should not be addressed. It should not be addressed to me, but ask the Secretary General when in his time schedule does he plan for Russia to join NATO.
In terms of Ukraine once again I would like to emphasize that very good, friendly and constructive relationships have been established between Ukraine and North Atlantic Alliance.
But once again I would like to underline that the reality,
I mean the internal development of Ukraine, economic progress,
of civil society institutes and meeting the criteria in
order to get
the membership in NATO do not allow us, both Ukraine and
others to speak about specific days of Ukraine's succession
de Hoop Scheffer: And I can side with President Kuchma on this and I'm much too modest a man to speak for the rest of government.
Thank you very much. Thank you.