|NATO's Commitment Toward Ukraine |
NATO's Commitment Toward Ukraine
Opening Statement by NATO Secretary General: Meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission at Foreign Ministers Level, Budapest, 30 May 2001. Source: NATO.
Welcome to this meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission in Foreign Ministers' session. Let me extend a warm word of welcome to Foreign Minister Zlenko. This is our second Commission meeting with Minister Zlenko, a long-time acquaintance of NATO as he served as Foreign Minister of Ukraine in the early nineties. It is an honour and a privilege for us to be again here together with you, Minister Zlenko.
The NATO-Ukraine Commission was created by the NATO-Ukraine Charter, signed four years ago in Madrid by Allied Heads of State and Government and President Kuchma. It reflects both the Alliance's and Ukraine's belief that, together, we have unique opportunity to significantly contribute to Euro-Atlantic security.
It is for this reason that NATO supports a politically independent and economically prosperous Ukraine as a crucial factor for our overarching goal of a more stable continent.
I would like to express NATO's sincere hopes that the new Ukrainian Prime Minister, Mr. Kinakh, and his government will continue the path of reform that has provided good results for Ukraine in the recent past.
We believe our bilateral cooperation in defence-related areas will benefit all countries in the region by promoting cooperation and good neighbourly relations. We see no contradiction, but rather a strong complementarity, between Ukraine's distinctive partnership with NATO and her natural interest in developing relations with other countries in the area, based on the principle of sovereignty. We are gratified to see that relations between Ukraine and her neighbours which have most recently joint NATO, including the host country of this meeting of the Commission, continue to develop successfully. This is yet again evidence that NATO enlargement has contributed to regional security in Europe.
NATO's commitment toward Ukraine, undertaken in 1997, is as topical, relevant and important today as it was then. Together, we continue to build on an already impressive record. So far this year, we have made very good progress in giving life to the Charter. The Work Plan for 2001 is being implemented to the satisfaction of both sides. The quality of our cooperation has made a leap forward. In particular, as Ukraine proceeds with the difficult task of reforming her defence establishment, we applaud the continuing work of the Joint Working Group on Defence Reform.
NATO and Ukraine continue to see eye to eye in the Balkans. Our joint work in Kosovo demonstrates that our partnership is not just a fair-weather affair; the Ukrainian contribution to the joint Polish-Ukrainian peacekeeping battalion is an example of how Allies and Partners can work together to face common challenges. Jointly we remain committed to a stable Balkan region and to other issues of regional security that we will discuss today.
As one prominent field of our non-military cooperation, let me also highlight our successful endeavours in the field of civil emergency planning, where we are implementing our 1998 Memorandum of Understanding, with NATO Allies cooperating with Ukrainian counterparts both in repairing the damage caused by natural disasters in Western Ukraine during the last winter and in exercises to ensure we are ready whenever and wherever natural calamities might strike next. This is an area where our host country today has been a true protagonist, as natural disasters do not observe political boundaries, and Hungary was also affected by the floods which plagued Western Ukraine in recent years.