|Updated: 22-Apr-2005||NATO Speeches|
21 Apr. 2005
Joint News Conference
by the NATO Secretary General
JAMES APPATHURAI (NATO Spokesperson): Ladies and gentlemen, the Secretary General and the Foreign Minister will each make brief opening statements then we'll be happy to take your questions.
JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER (NATO Secretary General): I have the pleasure to address you, together with Minister Tarasyuk, at the end of a very important meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission (NUC). As you know, NATO’s relations with Ukraine have entered a new phase. The new Government in Kyiv has demonstrated its commitment to democratic values – values NATO shares. President Yushchenko, and Foreign Minister Tarasyuk, have also made clear their intention to bring Ukraine closer to NATO – a goal NATO shares as well.
In February, Alliance leaders had a chance to hear a first-hand account of President Yushchenko’s reform plans. Today’s informal meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission provided an important opportunity to give new impetus, new energy and new substance to our relationship.
At today’s meeting, NATO member States and Ukraine reaffirmed the strategic importance of their Distinctive Partnership for security and stability throughout the Euro-Atlantic area.
NATO supports the efforts of the Ukrainian authorities to strengthen democratic institutions, encourage respect for shared Euro-Atlantic values and accomplish wide-reaching reforms throughout the defence and security sectors. In light of recent events which demonstrated Ukraine's commitment to such values, NATO and its member states will focus their ongoing activities in support of these efforts.
Existing NATO-Ukraine mechanisms, including the Charter on a Distinctive Partnership between NATO and Ukraine, offer significant scope for such support, and Foreign Ministers have agreed today a series of concrete, immediate measures. These measures, to be implemented in the framework of the NATO-Ukraine Action Plan, are intended to supplement and enhance existing practical cooperation and political dialogue, in order to achieve the maximum impact in support of reform goals.
Foreign Ministers recalled the declaration by NATO Heads of State and Government of 22nd February 2005 congratulating the people of Ukraine on their commitment to democracy and the rule of law and pledging continued support. They welcomed the aspirations of the Ukrainian people, as outlined by President Yushchenko, to build a democratic and prosperous Ukraine and to strengthen their integration into the Euro-Atlantic community.
NATO’s door will remain open to European democracies willing and able to assume the responsibilities and obligations of membership, in accordance with Article 10 of the Washington Treaty. Ukraine’s aspiration to integrate fully into Euro-Atlantic security structures carries with it a commitment to the very highest standards of conduct and values of the Alliance and of the Distinctive Partnership between NATO and Ukraine. Foreign Ministers agreed that the achievement of these standards would significantly improve the lives of all of Ukraine’s citizens, and bring Ukraine and the region greater stability and security.
NATO has invited Ukraine to begin, building on the existing framework, an Intensified Dialogue on Ukraine’s aspirations to membership and relevant reforms, without prejudice to any eventual Alliance decision.
The further intensification of the NATO-Ukraine relationship will continue to be based on Ukraine’s performance in the implementation of reform objectives, a process which NATO will assess regularly and stands ready to assist.
For those who are interested, let me encourage you to read a short paper outlining the concrete cooperative measures we have developed, together with Ukraine, over the past weeks. Copies have been made available to you in the Media Centre. We developed this package together, and will work together on its implementation. Because the pace at which any partner comes closer to NATO is based on performance in respecting NATO standards and values. These standards are rigorous, but as Minister Tarasyuk heard today, NATO and its member states stand ready to do what we can to help Ukraine achieve them.
Finally, let me thank Minister Tarasyuk for the exchange of letters on Ukrainian support to Operation Active Endeavour. This is yet another demonstration that the Allies can count on your country’s solidarity in addressing the common threat of terrorism – in this case related to our naval operation in the Mediterranean Sea.
Minister Tarasyuk, the floor is yours. After that we will be happy to take a few questions.
BORYS TARASYUK (Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine): Thank you Jaap. Good afternoon dear friends.
First of all I would like to say to you something very important. We did it together with NATO. Ukraine and NATO, we have transformed our relationship in a new stage that is Intensified Dialogue on Membership Issues. Without any exaggeration today's NATO-Ukraine Ministerial Meeting was a new chapter in our strategic relationship--the relationship between Ukraine and NATO. And without any exaggeration this was a success- I mean today's meeting.
During this meeting I acquainted my colleagues from NATO countries about major steps Ukraine made recently in the direction of NATO. Among those steps, number one, the Ukrainian President has endorsed and approved the annual target plan for this year and from now on it will be officially inaugurated.
Number two, the Ukrainian President has instructed me to sign the exchange letters on Ukraine joining the anti-terrorist NATO operation in the Mediterranean--Active Endeavour.
Number three, President Yushchenko has reinstated NATO and EU membership into a military doctrine of Ukraine which were removed by President Kuchma last summer.
And number four, President Yushchenko has announced about the finalization of a new mechanism of cooperation- a national mechanism of cooperation between Ukraine and NATO.
These are just a few examples of very concrete steps Ukraine is doing instead of just declaring as it used to be the case in the past.
With the exchange of our views, I acquainted my colleagues from NATO countries about the concrete steps Ukraine is taking in order to contribute to greater stability and security not only in Europe but the world over; about our contribution in these operations in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in the Balkans. We acquainted our partners about Ukraine's contribution and immediate plans for the Transnistria settlement. Tomorrow President Yushchenko is going to announce an outline- his vision of Transnistria settlement, and it will be done at the GUUAM Summit in Kishinev.
I would like to say that I was especially pleased to hear the full support of our colleagues from the Alliance to Ukraine's efforts and to Ukraine's reforms. Especially I expressed the gratitude for the efforts made by Allies concerning the Peace Trust Fund for the elimination of small arms and weapons and this is a very concrete assistance the Allies are going to provide to Ukraine.
Also, I would like to say that if before the membership in the Alliance was a self-stated goal by Ukraine, from now on this is our joint project with the Alliance.
I would like to remind you that Ukraine is not a consumer but a contributor to the stability and security in the continent and we will use our right for the driver's seat to drive our car cautiously but decisively for the set goal.
And to finish I would like to say that, during the Orange Revolution there was a very popular saying, 'One cannot stop freedom.' So paraphrasing it, I would like to assure you too, that one cannot stop the movement of Ukraine.
I thank you very much.
APPATHURAI: We have time for a few questions.
Q (The Associate Press): My question is for Minister Tarasyuk. NATO has spelled out a lot of reforms which Ukraine has to do in order to get ready for membership. Can you give us an estimate how long you think it will take Ukraine to carry out those reforms and get itself into that position where it can join the Alliance?
TARASYUK: And the end of the phrase...?
Q: How long do you think it will take Ukraine to carry thru the reform necessary to get ready for NATO membership?
TARASYUK: Well I would like to begin saying that Ukraine is not beginning this new stage in our relationship with NATO from a zero point. We have accumulated a rather valuable experience in cooperation through different mechanisms of cooperation be it Partnership for Peace, individual partnership programs, the Charter on a Distinctive Partnership between Ukraine and NATO and a Plan of Action and annual target plans.
So all of this contributed to accumulating the experience for us in Ukraine in cooperating with NATO and moving us towards interoperability between the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the Armed Forces of the Allies.
I think that one should not speak in very concrete terms about implementing our reforms, so our major objective is to make the life of Ukrainian citizens better. Well- to help them to feel the spirit of the democracy and freedom, the spirit of prosperity; this is our major objective and this major objective coincides with the major fundamental values and standards NATO is based on.
So, judging on this, I dare to say that Ukraine may be ready to fulfil this ambitious program of reforms in, let us say, three years term--so by the year 2008.
Q: (UNKNOWN LANGUAGE)
DE HOOP SCHEFFER: May I say that I have no translation at all and my languages are not too bad but they do not include all languages so- could I either have translation for- I know that I understood it was directed to Minister Tarasyuk but nevertheless I am very keen to hear the question of course. So could you please try again so that I can check if I can get some form of translation? Thank you.
APPATHURAI: The interpreter apparently is not here.
DE HOOP SCHEFFER: The interpreter's not here.
Q (INTERPRETER): The question was what Belarussian President Lukashenko saying that the Orange Revolution and all other coloured revolutions actually are "banditism".
DE HOOP SCHEFFER: The interpreter is here!
TARASYUK: Thank you for your question. Well first of all I would like to say that one should distinguish between the Ukraine-NATO track and the Ukraine- Belarus relationship. So these are absolutely different tracks so there is no connection and none of those tracks are intersecting.
About the assessment made concerning the Ukrainian Orange Revolution, it was seen by the whole world that this was a non-violent protest made by the people of Ukraine who decided that they are not going to tolerate the disregard of their political will; that they are going to defend their freedom to choose the leader of their choice so one cannot refer to this expression of peoples' will as "banditism" so I don't want to comment further on this regard.
But at the same time I would like to say that the international communities through its human rights commission- the United Nations Human Rights Commission has clearly assessed and expressed its concern over the situation with democracy and human rights in Belarus.
I recently was in Minsk and I had a meeting with my colleague, Foreign Minister Martinov. We had together the foreign ministers of CIS with President Lukashenko and I don't have any feeling that Ukraine's position on NATO, Ukraine's position on promoting and supporting democracy and human rights the world over, reminding the countries of their commitments and their obligations under international instruments, will be an obstacle on the development of our bilateral relationship. At least I don't see any danger in this.
Q (from the Romanian media): A question for the Secretary General, if NATO can stimulate in any way the withdrawal of the Russian troops from Transnitria separatist republic region? And a question for the Foreign Minister, if this plan that Ukraine has for the Transnitria separatist region involves also Romania and Moldova? Thank you.
DE HOOP SCHEFFER: As you know NATO is not directly involved as far as Moldova- Transnitria is concerned. I've been dealing with a matter but that was in a previous incarnation as chairman in the office of the OSCE.
There are other parties involved. Minister Tarasyuk just announced the meeting of the GUUAM in Kishinev tomorrow where we might see new initiatives. NATO does not play a direct role, but of course it is also the opinion of the Allies, that a solution will have to be found, first of all because the still present (inaudible) in Transnistria is part of the Istanbul Commitments of the Russian Federation. And for the rest, NATO will support but not actively participate in any political initiative which might bring the Moldovan-Transnistrian problem closer to a solution and as we know Ukraine can play and plays an important role in this be it only because of the problems around the border between Ukraine and secessionist Transnistria.
TARASYUK: Thank you. Let me follow-up on this first question about Russian troops in Transnistria. Immediately after this press conference I will have a meeting with my colleague and friend, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and I will convey this question to him.
As to the Transnitria plan of settlement which President Yushchenko will disclose some major elements, so it was not- this plan is not about the countries. This plan is about the stages and the mechanism of settlement of the Transnitria conflict in order to return Moldova to a unified state with a recognized border and to reinstate sovereignty of Moldova throughout the country, to secure greater democracy in Transnitria.
We, if one speaks hypothetically, certainly we are in favour of Romania joining the club of those countries and institutions dealing with the Transnitria settlement but officially as of now there are five parties which are participating in this settlement officially. These are Moldova, Transnitria, Ukraine, Russia and OSCE. Ukraine is in favour of joining this club also of the European Union and the United States of America and certainly, much will depend on the immediate participant to this settlement that is Kishinev and Transnistria.
APPATHURAI: Last question.
Q (from the Netherlands): Secretary General, the Foreign Minister just stated that 2008 would be the target year for reforms, for the implementation of the reforms. Does that mean that Ukraine won't become a member of NATO before 2008?
DE HOOP SCHEFFER: I don't know. Because as I've tried to explain, it is indeed Ukraine and I think we very much agree there at the wheel of the car. I do not know. NATO is, let me repeat, a performance-based organisation. Ukraine has embarked upon fundamental reforms but let's not forget- let's not forget, I see the orange t-shirt, well as a Dutchman I like orange, I know the Ukrainians they very much like orange...
TARASYUK: I have some orange here.
DE HOOP SCHEFFER: ...and the Minister has some orange, something happened in Ukraine. Something happened, there was a Distinctive Partnership, there was an Action Plan, there were target plans but something happened in Ukraine and because that something, this incredible Orange Revolution, we have now embarked upon this Intensified Dialogue. We have now embarked on let's say a new route in our Distinctive Partnership.But if you ask me for month, or weeks or dates- I don't know. But we'll assist and we'll help in any way we can the fundamental reform process Ukraine has already embarked upon, and you've heard Minister Tarasyuk announcing what President Yushchenko has done and what he's going to do in the Ukrainian administration. So I mean- I'm standing here on behalf of the Alliance in very positive spirits but I cannot give days or weeks or months, I cannot.