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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Statement at the Ministerial Meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission
Brussels, Belgium, December 9, 1998
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
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(As Prepared for Delivery)

Mr. Secretary General, Foreign Minister Tarasyuk, distinguished colleagues: I am pleased to join you in this third Foreign Ministers' meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission.

When we gathered here last year, we voiced the hope that Ukraine's distinctive partnership with NATO would help to secure Ukraine firmly in the heart of a new and undivided democratic Europe. But we acknowledged that NATO can only move ahead in this relationship if Ukraine, too, is striding forward.

So I have been delighted over the past year to see Ukraine embrace this partnership, and to witness its exemplary participation in the Partnership for Peace.

Ukraine has recently hosted two successful international joint military exercises. It is making good progress on its work plan and in the Joint Working Group on Defense Reform. It offered Yavoriv as a training center and will be assisting our verification efforts in Kosovo. And a NATO Liaison Office will soon open in Kiev.

Perhaps most impressively, Ukraine has developed and proposed, on its own initiative, a very ambitious Program of Cooperation with NATO up to 2001.

This program is both sweeping and specific. It is clearly oriented toward reforming Ukraine's entire defense and foreign policy apparatus to play a greater role in the new Europe. It prepares Ukraine to make a permanent contribution to Euro-Atlantic security. We take it seriously and will be reviewing it carefully in the coming weeks.

In light of these developments, I am very pleased that the North Atlantic Council has agreed to schedule a summit meeting of this Commission during the Washington Summit next April. President Clinton and I look forward to welcoming President Kuchma to Washington for that meeting.

In the meantime, Ukraine faces a triple challenge.

First, in its work with NATO, to give priority to projects of greatest impact and urgency -- and then to complete them effectively. Such discipline in setting priorities will help Ukraine begin budgeting for NATO-related activities over the longer term, as it prepares to bear its fair share of the financial responsibilities of partnership.

Ukraine's second challenge is to accelerate and succeed in its defense reform efforts. That means streamlining its military and increasing its professionalism. And it means further modernizing -- from defense doctrine to budgeting to logistics to civilian control -- in order to be more compatible with NATO.

Third, Ukraine must pursue the economic and political reforms that will bring the prosperity and stability it needs to be a full and reliable partner. Market democracy is a key aspect of Ukraine's integration into the Euro-Atlantic community, and all of us here are committed to ensuring that it succeeds.

Ukraine faces these challenges against the backdrop of global and regional economic crisis. That makes Ukraine's determination to make the most of our partnership even more admirable. And it makes the support of NATO members even more critical.

As we prepare for the Washington Summit, I urge NATO as a whole to assist Ukraine's reform and prioritizing efforts by providing advice and consultation. It is in this spirit that Ambassador Vershbow will lead a team of U.S. experts who will travel to Kiev early next year.

Looking ahead to the 21st century, the United States envisions an undivided Europe that is increasingly stable and secure, democratic and prosperous; a Europe standing together to meet the economic, social and security challenges of a new era. If this vision is to become a reality, Ukraine must play an integral role.

That is why we have forged this distinctive partnership. And that is why we all must strive to make it a success.

[End of Document]

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