Statement by the UNIC Co-Chairs Iryna Gerashchenko (Ukraine) and Raynell Andreychuk (Canada)

Odesa, 5 March 2018 – The Ukraine-NATO Interparliamentary Council (UNIC) met in Odesa today to discuss the key elements of the partnership between NATO and Ukraine, including the important role of parliamentarians. 

This meeting on Ukraine’s Black Sea shore, four years almost to the day since Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, provided an opportunity to reaffirm our condemnation of Russia’s illegal occupation and militarization of these territories, and ongoing violations of the fundamental rights of local populations, particularly Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians. 

At the same time, Moscow continues to provide political, military and economic support to members of the illegal armed groups operating in the occupied parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. Four years on, regular violations of the ceasefire continue to occur daily, and the Minsk agreements are still not fully implemented. 

We remain firm in our support for Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity, and convinced that the full implementation of the Minsk agreements remains the best way forward in the occupied part of Donbas. We call for an urgent end to violations of the ceasefire, the provision of full and secure access to OSCE monitors, and rapid progress towards the release of hostages and political prisoners illegally detained in Russia and in the occupied regions. 

Despite these serious challenges, Ukraine is engaged in an ambitious reform process. The Verkhovna Rada has a key role to play in strengthening and consolidating parliamentary oversight over security and defence – including policies related to Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration, and consolidating the anti-corruption legal and institutional framework and ensure its effectiveness. The future law on national security, recently submitted to the Rada, should ensure appropriate parliamentary oversight over all security and defence institutions.

Ukraine’s extensive partnership with NATO supports the country’s reform process, and we expect that upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for 2019 will not slow the pace of these fundamental reforms. 

Cooperation with NATO also strengthens the ability of Ukraine’s institutions to deal with the whole range of security challenges, as well as the resilience of its society to hybrid and cyber threats and other forms of destabilization. 

We welcome the progress achieved under the Annual National Programme for 2017, as well as growing public support for NATO membership, and look forward to the final adoption of the ANP for 2018.

In four months, NATO Heads of State and Government will meet for an important Summit in Brussels. We urge Allies to convene a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission on that occasion in order to reiterate Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic perspective and Allies’ support through the Comprehensive Assistance Package. We look forward to the further development of the Annual National Programme as a tool to support Ukraine’s membership aspiration. 
 
We call on Allied parliamentarians to continue to build solidarity and support for Ukraine in their respective national parliaments.  

As the parliamentary counterpart to the NATO-Ukraine Commission, UNIC provides an essential forum for members of parliament to monitor and support the objectives of NATO-Ukraine cooperation.  We intend to make full use of this forum in 2018. 

The Joint Monitoring Group with Ukraine was created in 1998 and adopted its current name - the Ukraine-NATO Interparliamentary Council - in 2003. This body brings together ten high-ranking parliamentarians from Ukraine with an equivalent number of their counterparts from NATO member countries. The Council normally meets twice a year: in Brussels and in Ukraine. Its aim is to demonstrate parliamentary interest and involvement in cooperation between NATO and Ukraine. Over the years, it has become an active political forum where members of parliament from NATO and Ukraine can discuss any and all issues of common concern and interest. 

The Council is meeting in Odesa on 5-6 March 2018 under the co-chairmanship of Iryna GERASHCHENKO, Deputy Chairperson of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and Raynell ANDREYCHUK, member of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly from Canada.

During the two-day meeting, members of UNIC will meet with Ukrainian government, regional, and NATO officials, as well as civil society representatives, University faculty members and students, to discuss the current security situation in Ukraine, particularly in the Black Sea Region, review the wide-ranging cooperation between NATO and Ukraine, and examine the implementation of urgent reforms. Allied and Ukrainian parliamentarians will also visit the Ukrainian Navy’s Western Naval Base.