HomeMEDIA RESOURCES200425 March 2004 – Press Release: NATO PA involvement important in further implementation of Ukraine 2003 Target Action Plan
25 March 2004 – Press Release: NATO PA involvement important in further implementation of Ukraine 2003 Target Action Plan
The Ukraine-NATO Inter-Parliamentary Council (UNIC) and the Sub-Committee on Central and Eastern Europe met at NATO headquarters on 22 March for briefings and discussions with senior NATO officials. The Council, consisting of parliamentarians from NATO nations and the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada, aims at strengthening the parliamentary dimension of the NATO-Ukrainian relationship and meets each year in both Brussels and Kiev to examine the implementation of the NATO-Ukraine Charter and to discuss all aspects of the NATO-Ukraine relationship. The Group is co-chaired by Oleksander ZINCHENKO (Ukraine) and Peter VIGGERS (United Kingdom).
Members of the UNIC and NATO officials emphasised that Ukraine plays a key role in Euro-Atlantic security and makes greatly appreciated contributions to Alliance-led operations in and outside of Europe. They also noted the positive role of the Ukraine-NATO Action Plan in assisting Ukraine to move closer to Euro-Atlantic integration and its eventual goal of NATO membership.
Senior NATO officials including Ambassador Günther Altenburg, Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs, and John Colston, Assistant Secretary General for Defence Policy Planning and Operations, commended Ukraine for its progress in achieving a substantial part of the 2003 Target Action Plan, particularly in the field of defence reform.
Participants stressed that the Action Plan has a substantial parliamentary dimension and that the NATO Parliamentary Assembly can play a role in assisting with those aspects. The Verkhovna Rada was commended for adopting a wide range of legislation in accordance with the Action Plan, but several speakers stressed that this should be followed up by effective implementation.
Concern was also expressed by several NATO officials and Permanent Representatives about the freedom of the media in Ukraine, particularly in the context of the forthcoming presidential elections. It was stressed that the Alliance is a community of shared values, and nations which harbour the ambition to join the NATO community have to fulfil not only the Alliance defence and security norms, but also the norms of civil society. In that regard, Ukraine was urged to ensure respect for media freedom and independence, free and fair election campaigning, and unrestricted access to media for all contenders in elections. It was noted that the forthcoming Presidential election in Ukraine would be seen as a crucial indication of Ukraine’s commitment in these areas.
Although Ukrainian participants acknowledged shortcomings in some of these areas, they argued that the elections were primarily an internal Ukrainian matter and that Ukraine is a democratic country. Several Rada members also called for clearer signals and more political support from NATO.
Participants stressed their willingness to continue strengthening the partnership between NATO and Ukraine and to develop it further. To that end, Mr Viggers said that the Political Committee of the NATO PA will devote increased attention to the cooperation between the Alliance and Ukraine.