At a joint briefing in Odessa Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Dmytro Kuleba and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told about plans and priorities for further cooperation between Ukraine and the Alliance.
Dmytro Kuleba welcomed NATO Secretary General in Ukraine and stated that among the urgent issues were strengthening the Ukrainian economy, democracy and the Armed Forces of Ukraine. "Today, in Odessa, in the new capital of our Navy, we place particular emphasis on the development of the Navy and the enhancement of security in the Black Sea," he said.
The Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration stressed that the current Government was the first Government to clearly set out in its Action Program a task to achieve harmonization of standards, requirements and principles with the Alliance’s membership criteria within five years. "Public opinion surveys show a steady pattern that the support for Euro-Atlantic integration in the public is steadily growing. We are not talking about the spontaneous reaction of Ukrainian citizens to Russia's aggression, but about a conscious decision," Dmytro Kuleba stressed.
He stressed that Ukraine had made its choice - NATO membership. Similarly, the Alliance made its choice in 2008 when it decided at the Bucharest Summit that Ukraine would become a NATO member. "We assume that this decision will be fulfilled. An application for Membership Action Plan (MAP) having submitted by Ukraine in 2008 is valid. We believe that there is no need to resubmit the application. Instead, we need to pursue reforms, deepen our cooperation with the Alliance, and achieve harmonization of standards of our Armed Forces with those of the NATO. The issue of granting MAP should be of technical nature rather than political," Dmytro Kuleba noted.
Moreover, the Deputy Prime Minister emphasized that Ukraine appreciates the consistent political support of the Alliance and its Member States, in particular, the practical assistance on the path of strengthening the capacities of the Navy. "Security challenges in the Black Sea are not a problem for Ukraine or the Black Sea alone. This is a threat to the entire region. When Alliance ships enter the Black Sea, they demonstrate the strength of the international community, being the proof of the capacity to guarantee the security of the entire region. It is critical that we can see today in the port of Odessa the mine countermeasures groups of the Alliance, minesweepers from Bulgaria, Italy, Romania and Spain next to the Ukrainian Navy vessels," the Government member emphasized.
The NATO Secretary General, in turn, reiterated the continued support for Ukraine by the Alliance and announced the launch of a new initiative in cooperation between NATO and Ukraine, which should integrate all existing cooperation formats.
"We have a long-standing partnership with Ukraine and we are constantly strengthening, adopting partnership with Ukraine. We already have the national annual program, we have the Comprehensive Assistance Package, and we have the NATO-Ukraine Commission. And now we are launching a new initiative which is aiming at coordinating work formats in a more coherent and more consistent way," said Jens Stoltenberg.
From the official text of the Bucharest Summit Declaration published on the NATO website:
"23. NATO welcomes Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO. We agreed today that these countries will become members of NATO. Both nations have made valuable contributions to Alliance operations. We welcome the democratic reforms in Ukraine and Georgia and look forward to free and fair parliamentary elections in Georgia in May. MAP is the next step for Ukraine and Georgia on their direct way to membership. Today we make clear that we support these countries’ applications for MAP. Therefore we will now begin a period of intensive engagement with both at a high political level to address the questions still outstanding pertaining to their MAP applications. We have asked Foreign Ministers to make a first assessment of progress at their December 2008 meeting. Foreign Ministers have the authority to decide on the MAP applications of Ukraine and Georgia."