NATO PA President Attila Mesterhazy (Hungary) issued the following statement following NATO’s decision today to recognise Ukraine as an Enhanced Opportunities Partner – a status currently extended to only five other countries which have made significant contributions to NATO operations:
“I strongly welcome Allies’ decision to upgrade Ukraine’s partnership with NATO by making it an Enhanced Opportunities partner. For years now, Ukraine has demonstrated that it is willing and able to contribute to Euro-Atlantic security even as it continues to face Russia’s aggression on its own territory. It has been one of the partners which has contributed to the widest range of NATO operations, from Kosovo to Afghanistan, from the Gulf of Aden to the Mediterranean. As an Enhanced Opportunities Partner, Ukraine will now be able to further develop the interoperability of its armed forces with those of NATO.
The Ukraine-NATO Interparliamentary Council (UNIC) has long advocated for Ukraine’s inclusion in the group of Enhanced Opportunities Partners – an issue we discussed again at our latest meeting in January at NATO Headquarters.
Through our own close partnership with the Ukrainian Rada, the NATO PA also supports Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, its Euro-Atlantic aspirations and reform process. Even if we will not be able to hold our spring session in Kyiv this year, I intend to travel to Ukraine as soon as possible to demonstrate our commitment towards ever closer relations with Ukraine. And we will hold the next meeting of UNIC online next month to take stock of developments in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine and Ukraine’s latest defence reforms.”
Ukraine is one of the NATO PA’s earliest and closest partners. In addition to Ukraine’s active participation in NATO PA activities, UNIC provides a dedicated forum for dialogue between NATO PA legislators and their counterparts from the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. UNIC was created in 1998 to bring greater transparency to the implementation of the NATO–Ukraine Charter and to demonstrate parliamentary interest and involvement in cooperation between NATO and Ukraine. It has since become a wider forum where members can discuss any issues of mutual concern. UNIC normally meets twice a year: once in Brussels at NATO HQ and once in Ukraine.