George Robertson, NATO’s secretary general, conferred on January 27-28 with President Leonid Kuchma and other leaders in Kyiv on ways to expand Ukraine’s cooperation with the alliance under the Charter for Distinctive Partnership. Robertson makes this visit three months after his appointment to the top NATO post and two months after Leonid Kuchma’s re-election as president of Ukraine. The latter has ushered in the resumption of Ukraine’s active cooperation with NATO, following a lull during Ukraine’s election year (see the Monitor, November 17, December 23, 1999; the Fortnight in Review, January 7). In his discussions with Robertson, Kuchma stated that his victory amounts to a mandate for “European and Euroatlantic integration,” given that he had run his campaign under European slogans.
On the Ukrainian side, Yevhen Marchuk currently handles most of the practical aspects of cooperation with NATO, in his dual capacity as secretary of the National Security and Defense Council and chairman of the government’s Interdepartmental Commission on Ukraine-NATO relations. That commission coordinates the activities of ministries and agencies involved in political, military, security and economic cooperation programs with the alliance. While Marchuk was Robertson’s main interlocutor on this visit, the NATO leader also conferred with Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko on assistance to the conversion of Ukraine’s military industry and with Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk on political aspects of the relationship. Robertson singled out as successful the participation of Ukrainian units in NATO-led peacekeeping operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina. By underscoring the fact that the Ukraine-NATO relationship has “withstood a difficult time in the Balkans,” Robertson implicitly contrasted Kyiv’s cooperative attitude with Moscow’s less-than-cooperative one.
The discussion focused, among other things, on plans for 2000 regarding Ukraine’s military reforms, expansion of Ukrainian participation in peacekeeping operations and other aspects of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program, and public relations work by NATO’s information center in Kyiv. A delegation of Ukraine’s Interdepartmental Commission is due at allied headquarters in Brussels next month, and the Ukraine-NATO commission at the level of ambassadors–a forum on which all NATO countries are represented–is due to hold its first-ever meeting in early March in Kyiv. On the whole, Robertson’s visit confirmed the fact that Ukraine has advanced incomparably farther than other post-Soviet countries in terms of cooperation with the Atlantic alliance (UNIAN, DINAU, January 28-29).
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