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25 June 1998
For immediate release
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Ukraine’s Contribution to European Capabilities
to Respond to the New NATO Security Challenges
Speech by Borys Tarasyuk, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine,
at XVth NATO Workshop on Political-Military Decision Making
Hofburg Palace, Vienna, June 22, 1998
Ukraine’s actual and potential contribution to respond to challenges facing NATO and the entire Euro-Atlantic area in all possible fields:
It is an acknowledged statement that Ukraine plays a pivotal role for stability in its region and on the whole continent. Few know how much efforts and energy was spent within a short period of time to earn this reputation. Deep internal political transformations, macroeconomic stabilization, resolution of many problems and establishment of friendly relations with one’s neighbors seem a natural course for a Western democracy, but was unprecedented in Ukraine. Demonstrating responsibility before international community and making its contribution to nuclear disarmament, Ukraine voluntarily renounced its nuclear weapons, is reforming its armed forces, adapting national legislation to European standards. It has welcomed NATO enlargement, supporting and actively cooperating with its CEE neighbors who are the first to join, and with all EAPC partners, Russia including.
II From regional cooperation to overall stability
Consistent and responsible foreign policy of Ukraine earned much respect among other newly independent states, making it an increasingly popular regional power, without domination instincts, politically credible and reliable. In a number of important cases Ukraine proved to be an effective political mediator, like it is the case in resolving an acute problem in Transdnistria. As you may know, the President of Ukraine is one of guarantors of peace in this highly "volatile" region. We are well aware of the serious situations in Abkhasia (Georgia) and Nagorny Karabakh (Azerbaidjan) where we are also willing to contribute to stabilization. Together with EAPC partners we have to pay adequate attention to these new risks in EAPC area. Our active role in the Black Sea Economic Cooperation was recently materialized in creation of a new international organization under this name, embracing 10 countries of the region. Since 1993 Ukraine has been one of strongest proponents of greater confidence and trust between the countries of the region, putting forward appropriate initiatives. As the result, representatives of 6 Black Sea countries will gather tomorrow in Kyiv for the first round of negotiations on confidence-building measures and reducing naval military presence in their region. Our initiative to get together the Black and Baltic Sea regions is also indicating the consolidating role of Ukraine in Central and Eastern Europe. Tomorrow I will join my colleagues from Northern Europe in Copenhagen at the Baltic Sea States’ Council meeting. This is for the first time that the Ukrainian Minister will participate as an observer at this forum. Autumn next year on the initiative of President Kuchma, Ukraine will host the conference of leaders of these two regions. One more initiative along the North-South axis engages regular meetings on various levels in 3+2 format among three Baltic States, Poland and Ukraine, one of which was initiated by President Meri. Another regional initiative of Ukraine is gradually taking a clearer shape, that is GUAM - an informal forum of consultation among Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaidjan and Moldova on issues of mutual concern and interest. This initiative entails such spheres of cooperation and consultations as peace-keeping, security of energy resources and their transportation, conventional armament and armed forces control. Finally, when we speak about regional cooperation, I have to mention the South-Eastern European dimension, where the major problems now are in Bosnia and Kosovo, and which region organically complements the Black Sea area. Concerted efforts in that part of the continent could bear a continuum of peace further to the Mediterranean. All this mentioned above is our serious political asset which is well recognized in NATO and other institutions.
III Nuclear dimension
Another challenge of a global scope where Ukraine has political weight and means to avert it is a nuclear threat. Recent nuclear tests of India and Pakistan shook the world. All kinds of levers should be used on the bilateral level and collectively to exercise necessary pressure to make these two countries abandon their nuclear programs and join existing control regimes. The most important thing here is to step forward with common position. The recent meeting in London of G8+6, including Ukraine, and decision to create a special task group is an important initiative to be continued. Ukraine is closely involved in these deliberations, having condemned the tests, both separately and together with NATO during the NUC Ministerial end of May, demonstrating once again the firm unity of its common values with NATO. We appreciate being invited to the London meeting, since nuclear issues are in the focal point of our attention as a country which had its imposed nuclear past, but decided to renounce these dreadful weapons.
Crisis management in the European "hot points" is probably the most time- and resource-consuming. NATO did a real good job to stop the war in Bosnia. A much harder work on stabilizing the situation and making the peace process irreversible is still ahead. Ukraine is fully supporting presence of NATO-lead peace-keeping forces in that region as long as it is needed for its full stabilization. We are determined to continue our contribution with our men and materiel as well as actively participate in developing the politico-military framework of NATO-led operations. Ukraine is an active peace-keeping country. It is recognized to promote reconciliation by political means in a number of regions in the EAPC area. It is gradually becoming more respected and trusted by its neighbors.
An important element of Ukraine’s peace-keeping policy and politico-military cooperation with the Alliance is its interest and readiness to participate in CJTF. Beside attractive air-lift capabilities, Ukraine can contribute through creating peace-keeping units with its neighbors, like Ukrainian-Polish battalion or similar initiatives now considered with other CEE and NIS countries, and offering them for NATO- or WEU-led peace support, crisis management or humanitarian operations.
V Border disputes
The strongest European asset capable to prevent or resolve border disputes has become NATO enlargement. Making good-neighborly relations and absence of territorial claims as a precondition of a country’s accession to the Alliance, NATO actually promoted resolution of border disputes in Central and Eastern Europe. This was also appreciated by Ukraine which during 1997 settled problems with all its neighbors. I remember that hectic time in May-June 1997 when President Constantinescu of Romania identified 10 days which stabilized the world praising also resolution of disputes between neighbors in Central and Eastern Europe, including Ukraine. Since the overwhelming majority of CEE states are willing to join the Alliance of democratic nations, I believe that such NATO’s policy combined with intensive cooperation and confidence-building measures with Russia will bear its new fruit.
VI Ethnic and religious reconciliation
Back in 1993 there was a fear in the West that Ukraine will fall apart because of its ethnic tensions and differences between its Western and Eastern parts. I congratulate those who ventilated this danger for their miscalculation. Ukraine today not only demonstrates internal unity, will to religious reconciliation and ethnic harmony, but also managed together with Hungary in back 1991 to become an example for the whole Europe in paying full respect to national minorities rights. We managed to reach political stabilization in the Crimea, are offering non-discriminating ways for development of many national minorities on our territory, trying hard to cope with high level of migration. Those are not only internal matters. If we had failed, that would have been a very big challenge to Europe. I can not but mention also the Declaration of reconciliation and unity signed by Presidents Kuchma and Kwasniewski which cleared the way to Ukrainian-Polish strategic partnership.
VII Military and military-technical contribution
Having inherited considerable military-industrial complex, Ukraine, on the one hand, has to cope with this enormous burden, but on the other it accumulated significant military research knowledge and experience which can be shared with NATO members and partners. Military and military-technical cooperation with NATO is being intensified. I will name just a few areas where Ukraine can contribute to the efficiency of the Alliance, but foremost where it can provide important European capabilities for all:
the Yavoriv training site in Western Ukraine is ideal for PfP and all kinds of other exercises, with participation of all willing to make a share. Recently submitted to NATO presentation document about this site evidently proves its numerous merits and advantages. It can house exercises on all levels, up to large formations; a promising venue of NATO-Ukraine cooperation in military materiel is production of Ukrainian tanks, aircraft and ships, which could be put at disposal for any European peace support operation. The biggest prospects are, as you know, for Ukrainian-Russian large aircraft AN-70, whose characteristics are very attractive for its employment as a powerful European capability, as a basis for the Future Large Aircraft (FLA). Rounds of intensive consultations have been held together with Russia, Germany, France and other NATO countries to realize this joint project, which has no equivalents, nor, as it looks, even alternatives in Europe.
I remember my friend Jose Cutileiro spoke yesterday about a need of WEU to borrow NATO assets for European operations. We both know well that Ukraine can offer a significant part of such assets for which purpose Ukraine and WEU signed in June 1997 the Framework document which provides a basis for rendering Ukraine’s air-lift capabilities for European needs, in particular, peace-keeping, crisis management and humanitarian operations. Ukrainian-French negotiations are under way now to practically materialize this agreement.
VIII Civil Emergency
Ukraine is capable to make its own contributions to common efforts in the sphere of civil emergencies. Engagement of Ukrainian search and rescue civil defense units in operations outside Ukraine is a promising venue of cooperation with NATO partners. Our considerable military, technological and human potential, unique experience in handling technogenic disasters can be employed elsewhere in the EAPC area where it is needed. Ukraine was one of the initiator and now active participant of the newly created Euro-Atlantic Disaster Relief Coordination Center which will act as "helping hand" of the UN Humanitarian Office to coordinate disaster relief or humanitarian operations in Europe. Besides, our participation in CMX two-phases exercises was highly appreciated.
I hope I made it quite clear in my presentation that Ukraine is a net European contributor to common efforts within and outside NATO/EAPC area, aimed at ensuring security by all and for all. It is an indispensable and reliable partner in the process of shaping a new security architecture on the continent and across the Atlantic. Ukraine considers NATO as objectively the main pillar and driving force behind global stability, regional cooperation and crisis management. Ukraine has become an organic part and partner of other democratic nations heading along to its full participation in integration processes on the continent.
I would like to finish my presentation with a quoting from the Ukraine-NATO Joint Press Statement made three weeks ago in Luxembourg which very clearly speaks of our relations of a distinctive partnership:
"NATO Ministers expressed their full appreciation for Ukraine’s strategic course of integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures, and reaffirmed their conviction that an independent, stable and democratic Ukraine is one of the key factors for ensuring stability in Central and Eastern Europe, and the continent as a whole."
And one last thing I want to stress especially: this officially proclaimed and consistently pursued policy course of integration shall remain in place no matter how its opponents outside the country wished it to be different.