|Ukraine Reaffirms its Aspirations for Close Euro-Atlantic Integration|
Ukraine Reaffirms its Aspirations for Close Euro-Atlantic Integration
Statement by the Secretary General of NATO, Lord Robertson, at the joint point de Presse with the Ukrainian Defence Minister, General Volodymyr Shkidchenko, following the NATO-Ukraine Commission Meeting at the level of the Defence Ministers, Brussels, 7 June 2002.
Welcome to this point de presse following the NATO-Ukraine Commission meeting of defence ministers. I am joined by Gen. Volodymyr Shkidchenko, the Minister of Defence of Ukraine.
Today’s meeting took place against the background of Ukraine’s reaffirmation of its aspirations for close Euro-Atlantic integration.
These aspirations enjoy the strong support of NATO. In fact, last month in Reykjavik the NATO Foreign Ministers came out strongly in favour of developing our relationship with Ukraine to a qualitatively new level.
We will be ready to elaborate the details of this deeper relationship by the NATO-Ukraine Commission summit meeting in Prague in November.
Meanwhile we are fully occupied with a very busy agenda of practical work.
Ministers today discussed the report of the Joint Working Group on Defence Reform. Minister Shkidchenko brought to the table a very ambitious menu of Ukrainian proposals on how to further reinvigorate and enrich this process. These proposals received a very favourable response from the NATO Ministers.
I will leave it to Minister Shkidchenko to talk about his plans for Ukrainian defence review. I would like to stress a few important points from NATO’s perspective.
The experience of NATO members on defence reform strongly suggests that appropriate resource levels and a sustained commitment to change are absolutely key elements of success. NATO Ministers who have some experience in this field suggested that defence reform and a defence review may be very necessary but they are not necessarily popular in the short term. The NATO countries are ready to offer help and advice, but they key reponsibility for carrying this through lies with the Ukrainian Government. But it is a responsibility that has to be shared between all of the authorities both civilian and military the translation of good intentions into concrete deeds is difficult but it is absolutely vital.
We today reviewed and commended the wide range of bilateral assistance programmes between Ukraine and the NATO Allies and we will continue to support this bilateral cooperation. The aim of all of this is to get better value for the Ukrainian taxpayer for what is allocated to defence.
We are approaching the 5th anniversary of the distinctive partnership between NATO and Ukraine and it has been a real success. Together, NATO and Ukraine can contribute even more to international efforts responding to contemporary security challenges.