The NATO-Ukraine Commission met in Brussels at the level of Defense Ministers on 8 June, to discuss Ukraine’s defense policy and the ongoing transformation of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, NATO press office reported.

In his opening remarks NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer noted that “this past year has been a period of enormous dynamism in the NATO-Ukraine Distinctive Partnership.”

“Ukraine has shown a new determination in carrying forward an ambitious program of political, economic, legal, defense and security sector reform. The NATO-Ukraine Intensified Dialogue has given us an effective mechanism for supporting Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration aspirations, and to allow Ukraine to benefit from the experience of Allies who have managed similar reform efforts,” said Scheffer, welcoming Ukraine’s Defense Minister Anatoly Hrytsenko.

In his turn Hrytsenko thanked Secretary General and stated that this session “is a good opportunity for Ukraine to convince our partners that we are moving towards not only defense reform, of course, but also are paying serious attention to reforming wider security sector, including special services, the interior troops, border protection troops, which during Soviet times were rather closed for the society.”

“I am here to present to you and you have on your tables, the White Book, defense policy of Ukraine for the last year, and according to the ministerial order this book will be published annually and I want to be frank and say you that it's unprecedented level of transparency. First, for Ukrainian society, for the experts, it was published in Ukrainian, and also for our foreign partners to understand where Ukraine is and where it's heading in terms of defense and security policy,” said Ukraine’ Minister.

“Ukraine is committed to all peacekeeping missions we are taking part of, including those NATO-leds and we are paying serious attention to the development of our peacekeeping potential for the future.

I want to thank, on behalf of the government of Ukraine, all of you for helping Ukraine through different PfP Trust Funds to deal with the disposal of surplus munitions, light weapons, MANPADS, for retraining our retired service men to help them be adapted for the civilian life, and also for training of civilian personnel for the Minister of Defense,” finished his opening speech Hrytsenko.

During the session Ministers reiterated their determination to continue working together to support the reform of Ukraine’s defense and security sector.

In particular, Ministers expressed their commitment to strengthen democratic institutions, encourage respect for shared Euro-Atlantic values and accomplish wide-reaching reforms throughout the defense and security sector, with a view to further supporting the achievement of Ukraine's reform objectives and her Euro-Atlantic integration aspirations. In this context, Ministers expressed their satisfaction with the ongoing NATO-Ukraine Intensified Dialogue on membership aspirations and relevant reforms, without prejudice to any eventual Alliance decision. Allied Ministers also welcomed the publication by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense of the first annual White Book on the Defense Policy of Ukraine for 2005, as well as efforts to implement the State Program for the Development of the Armed Forces of Ukraine for 2006-2011. Minister Hrytsenko outlined the practical efforts being undertaken with a view to helping Ukraine’s Armed Forces achieve NATO standards in accordance with the NATO-Ukraine Action Plan, the Military Committee Work Plan, and the PfP Planning and Review Process. He also indicated Ukraine’s readiness to further intensify these efforts.

Ministers also stressed the continuing importance to Ukraine’s NATO membership aspirations of effective reforms in Ukraine’s security sector. Considering the progress achieved by Ukraine in this area, Ministers welcomed the ongoing implementation of the National Security Sector Review in Ukraine and confirmed that the NATO-Ukraine Joint Working Group on Defense Reform (JWGDR) should continue to provide a key mechanism for channeling NATO-Ukraine cooperation in support of defense and security sector-related reform. Ministers also agreed to continue to use the JWGDR to assist Ukraine in transforming her security sector with a view to aligning it more closely with Euro-Atlantic values and standards. To this end, joint consultations will be continued with the participation of the relevant NATO and Allied experts and authorities including in the framework of the JWGDR Co-operation Plan on the National Security Sector Review in Ukraine.

Allied Ministers also reiterated their readiness to continue to assist Ukraine in strengthening civil and democratic control over security and defense structures. In this regard, the Ministers welcomed the ongoing implementation of the JWGDR Program for Professional Development of Civilian Personnel employed in Ukrainian security institutions. Ministers also emphasized the importance of NATO-Ukraine co-operation in further developing by Ukraine an effective national defense planning system. They also called for further efforts aimed at better harmonising bilateral co-operation being delivered to Ukraine by individual Allies.

Ministers also reaffirmed the continuing importance of managing consequences of defense and security sector reforms in Ukraine, and expressed satisfaction with the commencement of the safe destruction of stockpiles of surplus munitions, small arms and light weapons, and Man-Portable Air Defense Systems through the Partnership for Peace Trust Fund Project. They also reiterated their continuing support for the NATO-Ukraine retraining program for released military personnel and the Partnership for Peace Trust Fund Project which supports the military Retraining Centre in Khmilnytskiy.

Ministers also reviewed Ukraine’s substantial involvement in peacekeeping and peace-support operations which includes force contributions to KFOR, training personnel for the NATO Training Mission in Iraq, and practical steps of Ukraine supporting the Operation Active Endeavour in the Mediterranean. Ukraine’s readiness to provide logistical support to the NATO-led ISAF operation in Afghanistan and the African Union Mission in Darfur were also discussed.

Ministers also took note with appreciation of the invitation extended at the meeting by the Minister of Defense of Portugal to attend the 2006 High-Level NATO-Ukraine Consultations to be held in October in Lisbon.


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