During his joint press conference with President Viktor Yanukovych, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that today's fruitful conversation happened in a very constructive atmosphere. He thanked the Ukrainian side and the President for productive partnership our country has with the Alliance. 

"I also thank Ukraine for its participation in the NATO-led missions. It takes part in operations in the Balkans, Afghanistan, in ensuring maritime security, strengthening peace and stability. We highly appreciate Ukraine’s contribution in these missions," the NATO Secretary General said, presdiential press office reported. 

He said he has also briefed the President on the transformations going on in NATO. "At the Lisbon Summit in November 2010 we took very important decisions that will make our organization more efficient, effective and more actively engaged," Anders Fogh Rasmussen said. 

The NATO Secretary General stressed that the Alliance is a club of democracies that share such fundamental values as individual liberty, rule of law, and human rights. "Our door remains open for all the countries sharing these values and able to contribute to strengthening security," he said, stressing also that NATO does not impose anything on its partners. 

"Our partners have the sovereign right to determine their membership in a particular alliance... Therefore, we fully respect the policy of non-aligned status Ukraine has chosen," Anders Fogh Rasmussen said. 

He praised the President confirming today Ukraine's readiness to continue cooperation with NATO within the framework of the existing mechanisms and structures of cooperation. 

"We already have a very valuable cooperation, but there is additional capacity that we could use," the NATO Secretary General said. He reminded that today, NATO provides assistance to Ukraine in the social adaptation of former servicemen, managing the consequences of defense reform, retraining soldiers, who were made redundant in the defense reform. 

Anders Fogh Rasmussen pointed to the prospect of Ukraine's cooperation with NATO in the context of Alliance's considerable experience in managing emergencies. "Next year, Ukraine and Poland will be hosting Euro 2012. This is a huge challenge in terms of security and planning civil emergencies management. If the championship hosts have such a whish and turn to us, we are ready to help," he said. 

Besides, the NATO Secretary General noted the existing potential of cooperation between Ukraine and NATO in the field of energy security and combating piracy. 

"Today, we have discussed all these prospects and possible directions of further cooperation in a very positive atmosphere, and I look forward to further cooperation between NATO and Ukraine," Anders Fogh Rasmussen said. 

Answering journalists’ questions, the NATO Secretary General also said: "I was particularly pleased to see political activists, who staged a very "warm welcome" for me this morning. I do not think that they are NATO supporters, but I am a supporter of free society, I am a supporter of freedom of speech and press freedom. 

So I am very glad to visit the country, where people have such a high privilege – freedom of expression."


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