Updated: 20-Oct-2005 NATO Speeches


20 Oct. 2005

Achieving Ukraine’s integration goals:
What needs to be done

Speech by Jaap De Hoop Scheffer
Secretary General of NATO

Diplomatic Academy Kyiv, Ukraine, 20 October 2005

Ladies and gentlemen,

Dear friends,

It is always a pleasure to return to Ukraine . As you know, this time I have come to your country with the North Atlantic Council, the decision-making body of NATO.

Yesterday we had very fruitful meetings with President Yushchenko, Prime Minister Yekhanurov, Ministers Tarasyuk and Grytsenko, Speaker Lytvyn and other members of the Government and the Parliament of your country. Today, we have an equally important programme. Members of the North Atlantic Council have flown out to Kharkiv, Odessa and Donetsk to reach out to the young people and members of the civil society in these regions. I have stayed in Kyiv to meet with you and also your colleagues in the National University of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy.

Dear friends,

It is a particular privilege for me to address the Diplomatic Academy, knowing that work underway today, including in the framework of the NATO-Ukraine Distinctive Partnership, is changing fundamentally the environment in which you one day will be practicing this diplomatic profession.

When I was here in June, the Alliance and Ukraine had just decided to launch an “Intensified Dialogue” on Ukraine ’s aspirations to NATO membership and on the reforms necessary to bring those aspirations closer to reality. Foreign Minister Tarasyuk shared with me a “discussion paper”, in which the Ukrainian authorities identified areas where policies would need to be changed or actions taken in order to achieve NATO standards.

These standards apply to issues as diverse as the strength and reliability of democratic institutions, the current state of defence and security sector reform, Ukraine ’s commitment to peaceful resolution of disputes and the maintenance of good relations with her neighbours. All of these questions will be addressed during the Intensified Dialogue process.

The Intensified Dialogue is off to a good start, and we took another important step yesterday, when the North Atlantic Council held a series of meetings with President Yushchenko and senior members of Ukraine ’s executive and legislative branches. Allies continue to be struck by the seriousness and professionalism of our Ukrainian colleagues.

We also have been witness to the leadership’s determination to ensure continuity in Ukraine ’s Euro-Atlantic integration drive, despite political changes here in Kyiv over the past weeks. And we intend to maintain a robust schedule of NATO-Ukraine work throughout the autumn. The next step in this regard will be the informal Defence Ministerial consultations in Vilnius next Monday, which will help us to focus more sharply on Ukraine ’s specific needs in the area of defence and security sector reform.

Ukraine ’s reform process and the further evolution of its relationship with the North Atlantic Alliance are inextricable, and both received a new impetus with the “Orange Revolution”. Why is this so? Because the ideals of the Maidan [Máydán] are our ideals as well. Because what drives Ukraine forward into a future of liberty and prosperity will also bring us closer together. The North Atlantic Treaty of 1949 was built upon a shared commitment to “democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law”.

The Alliance has defended these values for 56 years. Through our partnerships and our “Open Door” policy, we have helped states in transition throughout Central and Eastern Europe , including several of Ukraine ’s neighbours, to put these values into practice. There is no reason whatsoever why Ukraine should not also assume her rightful place as a full member of this community of shared values.

Progress has already been made in charting a course toward this ambitious goal.

Freedom of the media, a chronic concern that has plagued our relationship in the past, has improved dramatically since the beginning of this year. Political programmes are being debated openly, and a vibrant parliamentary opposition is taking shape. In this distinguished company, however, rather than congratulate you on what has been achieved already, I would like to discuss some of the most important challenges that lie ahead.

The main engine driving Ukraine ’s Euro-Atlantic integration agenda forward needs to be a firm commitment to democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. The Ukrainian authorities – indeed, all political forces in Ukraine – need to demonstrate that they are willing and able to build strong, reliable democratic institutions, and to keep these institutions free from corruption.

Ukraine faces another important election in a few months. It is not for us, or anyone else outside Ukraine , to decide the results of that election.

But the quality of the process – whether there will be a free and fair campaign, equal access to media, unimpeded voting and an accurate vote count – will be a very strong indication of how much progress Ukraine has made in putting Euro-Atlantic values into practice. Similarly, it is not up to us to craft your system of government, but as the constitutional reform process moves ahead, Ukraine will have yet another opportunity, in consultation with the Council of Europe and others, to demonstrate her commitment to generally accepted democratic norms.

We will also be looking to Ukraine to affect sweeping changes throughout the security sector, building upon the very real progress achieved, with Allied assistance, in reforming Ukraine ’s national defence institutions. This is absolutely essential, not because “NATO said so”, but because professional, accountable military, security and intelligence organs, firmly underpinned by democratic control and respect for the rule of law, are indispensable to Ukraine’s future as a free, democratic state. So are law enforcement and judicial institutions that serve the cause of justice, rather than political agendas.

Ukraine ’s leadership understands this, and the Alliance stands ready to help them in making these reforms.

We will continue to work together to address common political and security challenges. Ukraine is an indispensable partner for the Alliance in the conduct of our operations in Kosovo and Afghanistan . We look forward to working together in the context of our anti‑terrorist naval patrols in the Mediterranean Sea in Operation Active Endeavour.

But beyond this operational context, we will also look increasingly to Ukraine as a partner in fighting arms trafficking and proliferation, and helping to address regional issues, such as the search for a political settlement in Transdniestria. Here, we welcome the energy and dynamism that the Ukrainian authorities have shown since the beginning of this year.

By tightening her own export control standards, and working together with the European Union to ensure adequate control of the Ukrainian-Moldovan state border, Ukraine will have yet another opportunity to demonstrate her role as a responsible partner and a net exporter of security. This can only serve to improve the country’s integration prospects.

Finally, we will be looking to the Ukrainian authorities to conduct a comprehensive dialogue with the Ukrainian people, to explain what the Alliance is, what we have achieved in the framework of the NATO-Ukraine Distinctive Partnership, and why Ukraine wants and expects more. Because if the country is to realise her membership aspirations, then this must be a national project with broad public support. It must engage all constituencies and all regions, those who wore blue last December as well as those who wore orange.

Events like this one here today can help in this effort. And indeed, as we speak, many members of the North Atlantic Council are discussing these issues with the Ukrainian people across the country. But there needs to be greater overall awareness of what Ukraine ’s security concerns are, and how the Alliance can help – indeed, is helping – to address them.

Here, I would highlight two concrete areas in which NATO is helping to address not only the geo-strategic interests of Ukraine , but also the very real personal security concerns of individual Ukrainians.

First of all, the retraining of redundant military personnel, where we have doubled our support this year and intend to do even more in 2006. And second, the disposal of large stockpiles of unstable, Cold War era munitions, where earlier this year we launched the largest Partnership for Peace trust fund in history. Most Ukrainians understand these challenges, but how many know that NATO is helping to address them?

There also needs to be greater understanding of the Alliance itself and its current goals and missions.

The Ukrainian people need to understand that, far from being a Cold War relic, today’s NATO is a force for stability and support in the Balkans, Afghanistan , Iraq , Darfur and most recently in the earthquake relief effort for Pakistan . They need to know that although the nature of the security threat has changed, the need for effective and lasting cooperation between like-minded democratic nations in meeting common security challenges has not.

They also need to understand that integration into the Alliance and strategic partnership with Russia are not competing, mutually exclusive goals. Indeed, NATO itself launched a very dynamic partnership with Russia and that partnership continues to deepen and grow.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Dear friends,

I can make all these points here today, just as NATO Ambassadors can make them in Donetsk , Kharkiv and Odessa .

But it will ultimately be up to you, the people of Ukraine , and her current and future leaders, to carry this conversation forward. Because the fundamental decisions about Ukraine ’s future are decisions that you will have to take. And I would ask you, the students of the Diplomatic Academy , as experts in Euro-Atlantic security, and as members of a generation that has the most to gain from the path of reform and integration, to play your part in this process.

The Alliance ’s doors remain open, and solid performance in the implementation of key reforms can make Ukraine ’s membership aspirations a reality. The future truly is in your hands.
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