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Press Release

Foreign Minister Tarasyuk Speaks On Security Interests Of Ukraine At Munich International Conference On Security Policy

12 February 1999

On February 7, 1999 Ukrainian Foreign Minister addressed a high-level international conference on security policy that took place in Munich, Germany. In his remarks he described NATO as essential to peace and security. Its enlargement, in Mr. B.Tarasyuk’s words, will "create a zone of democracy and stability" in Central and Eastern Europe. In reply to claims by Russian delegate that the borders of the former USSR represent a natural limit or a "red line" for NATO’s enlargement, Mr. Tarasyuk stressed that Ukraine accepts neither a "red line" concept nor Moscow’s attempts to speak on behalf of other independent nations.

Following is the text of Mr. Borys Tarasyuk’s address:

"Let me first of all say how delighted I was yesterday to enjoy this exceptionally intellectual forum which might have provoked some diversity of thoughts and approaches on European security; but at the same time it has made it obvious that all present here seem to be united in a joint drive to make our Continent stable and secure at the turn of the century.

We largely share the concerns over our common security expressed by participants; and I am sure that today’s continuation of the Conference will show that Central and Eastern Europeans, and Ukraine as an inseparable part of this region, do not only share the concerns but are also capable and willing to face the challenges to the security and have by our deeds already contributed to making our common European security consolidated and integral.

Right after regaining its independence in 1991 Ukraine had started to look for its place in Europe, while facing the problems of statehood building, setting up national government and structures of the sovereign state and coping with inherited burden of a one million strong army and third largest in the world nuclear arsenal.

In its search for the place on the Continent Ukraine didn’t follow the way chosen by the majority of the newly independent states formerly composing USSR. In May 1992 we didn’t join the Tashkent Treaty on collective security guided by the deep conviction that this way lead to the renewal of the division of our Continent and thus to a new confrontation.

Trying to contribute to a greater stability and better security environment, avoiding so called security ‘gray zone’, back in February 1993 Ukraine had put forward an initiative to establish ‘an area of stability and security in Central and Eastern Europe’. That idea had in fact not only preceded but essentially found its reflection in the Pact of Stability in Europe.

Despite the impatience demonstrated in 1992-93 on the part of the European and Euro-Atlantic community with regard to the process of national debates in Ukraine on the destiny of our nuclear arsenal, we reached the only right decision by abandoning the nuclear option and joining the NPT as a non-nuclear weapon state. This decision was fixed in a Trilateral Ukrainian-American-Russian Declaration of January 1994. Respecting its commitments Ukraine had soon fulfilled them having got rid of the nuclear weapons, and accepting the NPT. This demonstrated that young Ukrainian democracy was mature enough to meet its responsibility and proved to be capable to make a significant contribution to the European and global security by reducing world’s nuclear weapons stockpile and eventually by reducing nuclear threat. That step of Ukraine had also helped to preserve the existed world order based on the UN Charter and Security Council composition. Fortunately our contribution to European and global security was not forgotten and was adequately received when last year Ukraine was invited to join G-8 + 6 ad hoc mechanism on non-proliferation in South Asia.

Carefully studying the contemporary process, and particularly NATO PfP initiative we reached a conclusion that national security interests can be guaranteed only by active participation in the building of evolving European security system. It brought us to the only right decision to integrate gradually and fully to the European and Euro-Atlantic structures. Let me remind you here that Ukraine was the first newly independent state to sign PfP Document. That was exactly five years ago in February 1994.

Another manifestation of our contributing nature of active security building efforts is our participation starting from 1992 and ever since in international peacekeeping activities.

From the very beginning of PKO in Bosnia and Croatia Ukraine participate there first under UN and now under the NATO lead. Having understood that our security interests can not be realized without maintaining peace and stability in the region Ukraine has also started to make its contribution into peaceful settlement in Tadjikistan, Abkhazia (Georgia) and Nagorny Karabakh (Azerbaijan). As concerns Transdnistria (Moldova), we have all grounds to say that it was Ukraine’s initiatives and involvement that moved last year from a still point the efforts to find peaceful resolution. Being along with Russia a guarantor of a political settlement Ukraine sent her military observers to the area as well doing her best to bring together to the table of negotiations all parties concerned. As a guarantor of Transdniestrian peaceful settlement Ukraine has recently launched new initiatives aimed at bringing a fresh impetus to this process.

Ukraine submitted 60 candidates to serve in OSCE Kosovo verification mission, as well as offered its aircraft for NATO Kosovo air-verification mission.

Being aware that security on the continent is composed of sub-regional and inter-regional security components, we initiated the process of inter-regional cooperation ranging from various forms of cooperation in Central and Eastern Europe to the Baltic-Black Sea strategic links; from establishing Euroregions to a geopolitical triangular, like Ukraine-Poland-USA, confidence building measures and reduction of naval military presence in the regions.

The latter has its demonstration in the initiative, which unites now 6 Black Sea countries who conduct negotiations on the further confidence building measures.

Understanding that the security lies not only in the military sphere Ukraine explores its economic and political dimensions. This year will give us two important examples of the kind: the summit of leaders of Central and Eastern European countries in Lviv in May, and in September the Yalta summit conference of the leaders in Black and Baltic Sea regions, initiated by Ukraine’s President Kuchma in order to help those nations to join their efforts in beneficial cooperation to avoid new dividing lines in Europe in the next century.

As much as strong links between Western and Eastern parts of Europe are crucial for the integrity of the Continent’s security, as much the Trans-Atlantic link in our view was and will remain in the reasonable future indispensable.

The last 50 years proved that NATO is the established structure, which has been an anchor of stability during this controversial period of European history. We are convinced that Europe still needs NATO’s competence and strength. We believe that NATO on the eve of its conceptual renewal remains the essential instrument for maintaining peace and stability and for providing security not only to its members but also to the entire European Continent.

We regard NATO enlargement as an expansion of democracy and guaranteed stability in Europe. The beginning of the NATO accession negotiations in itself contributed to the promotion of stability in Europe as membership of NATO is conditioned, and in this aspect Ukraine has already benefited from NATO by concluding important agreements with its neighbors thus closing some historical problems and at the same time adding to greater stability. We appreciate it that NATO enlargement is accompanied with a dialogue and confidence building measures. We strongly support such measures as we share the concept of indivisibility of security.

In this sense the Ukraine-NATO Charter on a Distinctive Partnership has opened new avenues for further dynamism of relations between Ukraine and the Alliance in many areas ranging from reform and interoperability of the armed forces to handling ecological emergencies and economic workshops. Ukraine has adopted a national program of cooperation with NATO for the years 1999-2001.

It goes without saying that European and Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine by no means should be pursued at the expense of strong commitment to further develop friendly good neighborly relations with the democratic and stable Russia. Ukraine, which has ratified the major Treaty on friendship, cooperation and partnership with Russia, welcomes Russian rapprochement with NATO not only in its institutional dimension but also in its practical forms, which find its reflection in the common work of the Contact Group on Kosovo.

To that end, as was most rightly stated yesterday by Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, ‘we need to use and strengthen all the existing instruments and institutions of international cooperation. That is true for NATO just as much as it is for the United Nations, the OSCE, the EU and WEU.’

That is why Ukraine pays so much attention to strengthen the spirit of solidarity and common values created by these organizations. Ukraine is a member of the Council of Europe and OSCE and is working actively to join the EU in the future. Ukraine also seeks closer relations with the Western European Union, which we regard as a component of European security. In this context we regard close relationship between NATO, EU and WEU as reinforcing and interlocking, and is reflected in Ukraine's relations with all those structures. This is our will to use the best of the spirit of NATO-Ukraine partnership in our relations with the EU.

All in all it can create necessary foundation to achieve one of the major Ukraine’s security interests which is preventing reappearance of the dividing lines in Europe, so called ‘gray zones of security.’

Using the words of Johann Wolfgang Goethe, "Time never stands still, life constantly develops, human relationship transforms every fifty years." In view of the approaching Washington summit and upcoming enlargement of the North Atlantic Alliance, in view of new, eastward-looking European Union as basis for stability and prosperity, with the aspirations to create new peaceful Europe without dividing lines, these Goethe's words have a prophetic ring.

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