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Press Release

Speech by George Robertson, Secretary General of NATO, at the Meeting of the NATO-UKRAINE Commission

Ukraine, Kyiv, March 01, 2000 # 12

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Welcome to the first meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission in Ukraine. Let me extend a warm word of thanks to my friend Borys Tarasyuk, whom we have long known at NATO, and to whom we owe much of the success of the NATO-Ukraine distinctive partnership over the last several years, for having invited the members of the North Atlantic Council to Ukraine. It is an honour and a privilege for us to be here.

The NATO-Ukraine Commission was created by the NATO-Ukraine Charter, signed in Madrid on 7 July 1007 by Allied Heads of State and Government and President Kuchma. It reflects both the Alliance's and Ukraine's belief that, together, we have a unique opportunity to significantly contribute to Euro-Atlantic security and stability. The re-election of President Kuchma is a sign of the continued Ukrainian commitment to this partnership. Allies welcome and reciprocate this commitment.

Over the last few months, we have made substantial progress in giving life to the Charter. The Work Plan for 1999 has been implemented satisfactorily, and the quality of our cooperation has increased. Likewise, the Work Plan for 2000 is being implemented in earnest, and our visit here, just a few weeks after my own first trip to Ukraine, bears witness to this.

We continue to build on an already impressive record. Ukraine was one of the first partners to open a full-fledged mission at NATO Headquarters, as well as a military mission as part of the Ukrainian Mission.

The NATO Information and Documentation Centre in Kyiv - which was inaugurated in May 1997 -continues to play an important role in enhancing information efforts in Ukraine.

Last year we have added a NATO Liaison Office to our presence in Kyiv, and my staff has been working in Kyiv both to facilitate Ukraine's full participation in PfP and to enhance contacts between NATO and Ukrainian authorities. This office is now fully staffed and operational, and will contribute to help Ukraine in the arduous task of reforming its defence establishment.

The recent past also saw concrete cooperation in the field of civil emergency planning, with NATO Allies cooperating with Ukrainian counterparts in repairing the damage caused by natural disasters in Western Ukraine. This area of cooperation will be a subject for further consultations today.

In the field of economic co-operation, NATO has also provided language retraining for retired military personnel, to help them integrate in civil society after they leave the armed forces.

Last. but by no means least. NATO and Ukraine have been cooperating, under difficult circumstances, first in Bosnia, and then in bringing peace to Kosovo, thus demonstrating that our partnership Is not just a fair-weather affair.

For more information, please contact:
Taras Malyshevskyi, Press Secretary of the Embassy of Ukraine
310 Somerset Street West, Ottawa, ON K2P 0J9
Tel. (613) 230-2961, fax (613) 230-2400,