Updated: 30-Oct-2006 NATO Speeches


8 June 2005

Press conference

by the NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and Anatoliy Grytsenko, Minister of Defence of Ukraine

8 June 2006 - NATO HQ
Defence Ministers Meetings
Audio file of the press conference with Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and Anatoliy Grytsenko, Ukrainian Minister of Defence

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer: Good afternoon. I'm very pleased to welcome, once again, colleague and friend, Anatoliy Grytsenko after what was, I think, a timely and also lively meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission. After all, defence issues are right at the heart of our cooperation and various projects require ministerial guidance and ministerial attention.

Let me, for briefness sake, draw my attention to my Chairman’s Summary of the meeting which highlights the substance of our discussion. Our discussion, which was, as usual, open and frank. Minister Grytsenko outlined Ukraine's first ever White Book. He circulated the White Book around the table. Ministers immediately starting to read it. And this White Book provides, I think, a very honest snapshot and analysis of the country's defence policy and NATO's experience shows how important this process is for setting priorities.

And for us and for me this is clear evidence, the fact that there is now this first ever White Book, that Ukraine is serious about bringing its armed forces up to the international standards, and the state program for development. Ukrainian implementation of the action plan is also a solid input, together with this White Book, of the intensified dialogue Ukraine and NATO are having.

I said in my summing up in my meeting a moment ago, that Ukraine, of course, is a very welcome provider of security; not only a consumer, but also a provider of security. Participation in KFOR, participation in NATO's training mission in Iraq -- the only partner country, by the way, supplying trainers, Support Operation Active Endeavour, ready to help with logistics in Darfur as well.

I think good advice from friends is always valuable, and in this spirit Minister Grytsenko heard today from his NATO friends and colleagues about the importance of professional development of civilian personnel working in the security institutions, in the broader sense of the word, and more cost effective use of funds. In general Kiev and Ukraine was encouraged to take an even more realistic approach to security sector reform.

Well, you know that very concrete assistance is being given to Ukraine through special trust funds that will pay for the safe destruction of stockpiles of surplus munitions, of small arms and light weapons. These programs are now ready for implementation and will benefit the whole Ukrainian society.

It's clear, ladies and gentlemen, that Ukraine is facing and facing up to some real challenges of modernization and the choices are for Ukraine alone to make, but NATO stands ready to help and our support to Ukraine, I can tell you, and assure you, will not waver. That was, I think a clear message today.

Before I turn over to Minister Grytsenko, one final point I should mention to you, on the demonstration taking place in Crimea.

Of course, this came up at the meeting and let me say that I think it's very regrettable that some have made a political issue out of a routine exercise that has been taking place regularly for years. Let's not do have the impression that this is the first time that this takes place. It has been taking place on a regular basis. And NATO supports the goals of this exercise.

Interoperability, modernization, and international cooperation are all important goals for the Ukrainian armed forces, and on this matter, as on all other matters, of course, Ukraine's decision remains fully sovereign. But this is to get, as far as I'm concerned, and as far as NATO is concerned, to get the record straight on the events we have seen unfolding over the past days.

May I now ask my colleague, Minister Grytsenko, to take the floor please.

ANATOLIY GRYTSENKO (Minister of Defence of Ukraine): Thank you. Would you allow me to say a few words in Ukrainian from (inaudible)...


DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Of course. My Ukrainian is not what it used to be, but I'll have an earpiece. Thank you, please Anatoliy, go ahead.

GRYTSENKO: (Speaking in Ukrainian)...

Q: National News Agency of Ukraine, (inaudible)... Secretary General, how could you comment yesterday's statement by Sergei Lavrov who stated that if Ukraine will join NATO it will undermine the geo-strategic balance in the region? And question to Minister Grytsenko, if possible, in Ukrainian. (Speaking in Ukrainian)...

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Let me start by saying that the experience with NATO enlargement up till now has always been to see an increase in security and stability and that is the reason that, as you know, the NATO Allies support Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic ambitions, Atlantic ambitions, and you know what then follows. The when is based on performance.

But I do not think there I could find an argument where the process of NATO enlargement has, as I think was said, undermines stability. I would say the contrary. It has increased stability and security.

GRYTSENKO: (Speaking in Ukrainian)...

Q: (Speaking in Ukrainian)...

GRYTSENKO: (Speaking in Ukrainian)...

JAMES APPATHURAI (NATO Spokesman): Last question.

Q: Mark John from Reuters. Two very quick questions to the Secretary General. Firstly, are you concerned that the continued lack of certainty on the government of Ukraine is going to make it harder, increasingly harder to give Ukraine a positive signal on membership at the Riga Summit, as some allies are already suggesting now?

And second question on a different subject, if I may, was Darfur discussed already at today's meeting and were there developments you can tell us on about that?

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Let me start with Darfur. This was discussed over lunch in the framework of NATO's operations and missions, and that was a relevant moment because yesterday afternoon I received a letter from President Konaré of the African Union Commission in which he asks NATO to continue the support we are giving, and you know what that is. That is the airlift of African Union battalions in and out of Darfur, and the capacity-building, in normal-speak, the military training of the African Union leadership. And also react positively on three other elements which have been discussed in the North Atlantic Council, as you know, two and three weeks ago, and that is to support for the African Union, as far as the pre-certification of UMIS is concerned, assist them in the lessons learned and assist them by the setting up of what was called a Joint Operations Centre, and is now called Joint Headquarters, if I'm well-informed. But it was called a JOC, a Joint Operations Centre.

That is a positive reaction to what has been discussed in the North Atlantic Council and we are now moving on with this. I, of course, and that was also discussed over lunch, in the hope that at a certain stage the very good work, the African Union AMIS has been doing and is doing at the very moment, I complement them I commend them for that, will be taken over by the United Nations. But this is in the NATO-AU sphere what is happening and what's going to happen.

Answering your first question, as you have seen and heard from Minister Grytsenko's visit here today, the NATO-Ukraine relationship is moving on. There is a process going on of building a new government. This is a sovereign Ukrainian process. That is not up to allies to involve themselves in nor to decide about. That is Ukraine, the Ukrainian political parties, the Ukrainian president.

I think you cannot say that has a direct influence on the trajectory of Ukraine on its road to NATO integration. I could say, of course, I think without involving myself in what is an internal Ukrainian affair, that I would hope and I think Minister Grytsenko would agree, that as soon as possible there will be a Ukrainian government, but the speed is up to them. It's not up to NATO.

APPATHURAI: I'm afraid that's all we have time for.

GRYTSENKO: Thank you.

DE HOOP SCHEFFER: Thank you very much.

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