In opening the meeting, Zelensky said that “the visit of a delegation of members of the North Atlantic Council of NATO to Ukraine is a bright manifestation of solidarity with our State”.
“Thank you for your unchangeable allied position on supporting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and non-recognition of the Crimea’s illegal annexation. We are grateful for NATO’s persistent demands for Russia to stop her aggressive actions and pull out her troops from the occupied territories in our country”, said the President. According to Zelensky, Ukraine highly evaluates the decision the leaders of the Alliance made in Brussels last year to reaffirm the resolution of the 2008 Bucharest Summit that Ukraine would become a member of the Alliance. Zelensky stated Ukraine’s readiness to speed up preparations for accession to NATO. In his words, a possibility of joining the Membership Action Plan (MAP) is still on the agenda.
Speaking at a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the President of Ukraine expressed hope that “progress made by Ukraine in implementing norms, principles and standards of NATO as well as a new format of relations with the Alliance will be reflected in its future political decisions”.
Zelensky said that Ukraine was ready for a closer cooperation with NATO in the new format. In particular he mentioned the country’s plans to join the Enhance Opportunity Program. This program includes non-members of the Alliance who are ready to work together with NATO on technical issues and participate in joint military exercises and operations.
For his part, NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg emphasized the importance of reforms for Ukraine’s future membership because the President of Ukraine and his Government have been given a very strong mandate to implement key reforms. “Ukraine is now working to reach the Euroatlantic standards and principles in order to realize expectations of her citizens. Reforms are very important for the security and prosperity of your country as they will promote your advance towards the future membership in NATO”, said Stoltenberg. As for the Minsk Accords, the NATO Chief believes that they have to be implemented in full measure by all sides including Russia as NATO expects from her to be true to her responsibilities under these accords.
“We support efforts of President Zelensky with regard to the peaceful settlement of the conflict. And we highly evaluate your leadership and your efforts. NATO supports Ukraine politically and practically while assisting her in strengthening her defense and security institutions, the Armed Forces of Ukraine”, stated the Secretary General of the Northatlantic Alliance. Besides, he spoke about a new initiative in relations between NATO and Ukraine. This initiative is expected to unite all new existing forms of cooperation with the aim of making them closer and more coordinated.
During his visit to Kyiv, Jens Stoltenberg spoke at the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian Parliament). “As a sovereign nation, Ukraine has the right to choose her own security arrangements. NATO’s door remains open. The road to NATO membership is not easy. For those who seek it, it requires dedication and substantial reform. But in the end, membership is a decision for the members of the NATO Alliance, and for those who wish to join it. And for them alone. No outside country has the right to veto. The time of spheres of influence is over”, said the Alliance Secretary General.
The delegation of the North Atlantic Council met with Verkhovna Rada Chairman Dmytro Razumkov, the Foreign Minister and the Minister of Defense of Ukraine.
The North Atlantic Council (NAC) is the principal political decision-making body of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, consisting of Permanent Representatives from its member countries.
The newspaper Holos Ukrainy