Not long ago, NATO membership for Ukraine was one of the top subjects for discussions. Disputes died off when the non-aligned status of the state was secured by law, but cooperation between Ukraine and NATO did not stop with it. In an interview to ForUm, Marcin Koziel, Director of the NATO Liaison Office in Ukraine, spoke about the level of cooperation with the Alliance, about Ukrainians' status in this cooperation and about NATO expansion plans.

- Mr. Koziel, already for three years Ukraine have been a non-aligned state. How does this status influence the cooperation between Ukraine and NATO?

- First of all I want to underline that NATO members respect Ukraine's right to determine its foreign policy course and understand Ukraine's decision to follow non-aligned policy.

In general, this course has not affected practical performance of our cooperation. We continue to cooperate within the Annual national program (ANP), which is a great instrument for NATO and its members to help Ukraine with introduction of effective policy in five key sectors, including political and economic issues, defense and military issues, resource issues, security and legal issues.

The core of ANP remains unchanged and is aimed at implementation of Euro-Atlantic democratic standards, supremacy of law, complex reforms in security sector. Thus, we continue active partner cooperation on security in many spheres and contribute to peacekeeping in many regions.

- What is being done for deepening and extension of cooperation between Ukraine and NATO? What are the priorities?

- NATO and its members support Ukraine in modernization of its security and defense sector to provide better management and democratic accountability. We also successfully develop the programs on professional training of militaries and civil specialists, who attend a refresher course and study foreign languages with the support of the Alliance.

Moreover, among key priorities there is still the program on utilization of dangerous and old ammunition. This year we have started the second phase of the project, financed by NATO, on disposal of conventional ammunition, small arms and AP mines in Ukraine. In this context, I want to point out that outdated ammunitions pose a potential threat not only for Ukraine, but for other territories as well. Such ammunitions may cause a manmade disaster, as many armories and storages are located near important industrial facilities, including nuclear power plants.

Modernization of the whole security policy is also among priorities. NATO members are ready to share experience on implementation of NATO standards in the security sector, military planning and operational capability. Moreover, we do appreciate Ukraine's contribution to NATO operations and missions. Thanks to it Ukraine remains an important contributor to international security.

We welcome Ukraine's propositions regarding participation in missions on training and assisting Afghan security forces, as well as anti-pirate missions of the Alliance. Thus, among other priorities there is improvement of operational capabilities of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to bring them in line with military formations of NATO countries.

- How professional are Ukrainian militaries, law enforcement officers and doctors, participating in peacemaking operations of NATO?

- NATO distinguish high professional skills of Ukrainian specialists, both the military and civilian. Moreover, I want to point out that Ukrainian militaries and law enforcement officers are quick learners and pick up fast both theoretical and practical knowledge, necessary for being in line with foreign colleagues. 

- Your Office has numerous tasks to accomplish, including deepening and broadening of cooperation and consultation works, but the staff of the Office numbers only 16 members. Do you manage to perform all the tasks, or have to choose?

- Now we perform a whole range of tasks, and the results of our performance is regularly estimated by relevant departments of NATO headquarters, which in fact determine the priorities of our work.
- Is Ukraine important for NATO?

- I want to point out again that Ukraine remains an important partner, as it contribute to its operations and missions. For almost twenty years this special partnership between Ukraine and NATO remains one of the most active courses, being followed by NATO. It means that our partnership is useful and we need to develop it.

I want to remind that at Chicago summit of 2012, NATO countries established that "independent, sovereign and stable Ukraine, fully committed to democracy and supremacy of law, is the key of Euro-Atlantic security".

- Does NATO plan on expansion of the member list?

- NATO doors are always open for all European democratic states, which share values of the Alliance and are ready to assume responsibility and obligations of the members to promote general security and stability.

Yulia Artamoshchenko


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