Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 134

Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma and the leaders of NATO’s 16 member countries signed yesterday in Madrid a Charter of Distinctive Partnership between the alliance and Ukraine. The charter envisages consultations between Ukraine and NATO on political and security issues, conflict prevention, the control of arms exports and transfers of space technologies, and nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Ukraine obligates itself to continue military reforms and to strengthen civilian democratic control of the armed forces. Under the charter, "the NATO allies will continue to support Ukraine’s independence and sovereignty, its territorial integrity and the inviolability of its borders;" and they recall the commitments of the nuclear powers (undertaken in 1994 in the context of Ukraine’s renunciation of nuclear weapons) to Ukraine’s independence, integrity and security.

The document provides for NATO-Ukraine consultations to be held periodically within the framework of the North Atlantic Council, NATO Committees, military partnership mechanisms, and bilateral meetings among top military leaders of NATO countries and their Ukrainian counterparts. A Ukrainian military liaison mission will be added to Ukraine’s political mission to NATO, while the alliance "reserves the right" to open a military liaison mission in Kyiv. The sides will create a joint commission which will meet at least twice a year to review the progress of relations and work out proposals for their further development. In addition, NATO and Ukraine will create a "crisis consultation mechanism," to be activated when Ukraine considers a direct threat has arisen to its security, territorial integrity, or political independence.

Kuchma observed at the signing ceremony that Ukraine’s internal democratization and the development of its cooperation with NATO are parallel processes, and described the charter as "not a final, but a transitional step" in the development of Ukraine-NATO relations. He said that Ukraine considers itself an integral part of Europe and "is ready to take part in providing peace and stability to Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe." Kuchma urged NATO to remain open to all countries wishing to join it, but at the same time said that Kyiv is not prepared to declare its desire to join NATO. Alluding to Russian concerns, he stated that "Ukraine does not live in a vacuum and must take its neighbors into account… East and West are interested in seeing Ukraine retain its non-bloc state at this time."

Commenting on Kuchma’s remark that "a lot of pages of Ukrainian history, including recent ones, have been written with blood and human tragedies," British prime minister Tony Blair stated that the charter signed yesterday will ensure Ukraine against repetitions of such suffering. U.S. president Bill Clinton for his part said at the signing ceremony that the signing of the charter responds to "Ukraine’s aspirations to freedom and democracy." Clinton acknowledged "Kuchma’s courage in leading the country on the path to reform," and said that "this is the most difficult thing of all because the voters may vote out the reformers." Clinton also pledged that Washington would use its influence to ensure international financial support to Ukraine’s economic transition if Kuchma could ensure the enactment of reforms "within a year." Kuchma’s account of the same conversation differed slightly in its emphasis: "Bill Clinton understands that we are on the threshold of parliamentary and presidential elections and that we can’t be left to face our difficulties alone," Kuchma said. (Ukrainian agencies, July 9-10)

Moscow Continues to Snipe at NATO Developments.