NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow has said that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will support the European aspirations of Ukraine. At the same time, he noted that NATO respects Ukraine’s choice to adhere to the non-aligned status.
“The topic of Ukraine’s national security and its relations with international organizations is important, and recent developments in your country as well as in Russia, Republic of Moldova and Armenia have made it even more urgent,” he said.
“As the Vilnius Summit of the Eastern Partnership approaches, we are reminded of a fundamental principle of the Helsinki Final Act that is a key element of national security and sovereignty. That any nation is free to build relations with partners of its choice,” he added.
“We at NATO were reminded of this principle back in 2010, when the democratically elected government of Ukraine decided that it would no longer seek to join NATO. NATO respects Ukraine’s decision because we respect every country’s sovereign choices. But not only that. The Allies also agreed to maintain the same, intensive level of practical cooperation with Ukraine that was agreed at our Bucharest Summit in 2008. This meant continuing the Annual National Programme, with all its practical advice and assistance, that’s aimed at helping Ukraine to develop into a democratic, prosperous and free country,” Vershbow said.
Ukraine was not only the first NATO partner to join the NRF. It was also the first Partner to contribute to our anti-piracy operation off the Horn of Africa, Operation Ocean Shield, with the deployment later this fall of the Hetman Sahaidachny, the flagship of the Ukrainian Navy, he said.
Of course, Ukraine contributes not only to NATO operations. It is also a major contributor to crisis response operations led by the United Nations, the European Union and the OSCE, Vershbow said.
“Ukraine is an active contributor to the EU’s Battle Groups, and is developing closer relations with the EU in the framework of the Common Security and Defence Policy. This follows naturally from the long-standing policy of successive Ukrainian governments to seek Association with and ultimately membership in the European Union,” he said.
“As I look to the future, I see great potential for closer cooperation between Ukraine and NATO in a number of areas. One particularly promising area is defence reform and military transformation. And I note that a NATO expert team on these issues has arrived in Kyiv just yesterday for consultations with Ukrainian experts,” Vershbow said.
Full article: NATO sees great potential for co-operation with Ukraine (New Europe Online)