KYIV, Ukraine, February 26, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen praised Ukraine's participation in a number of NATO missions. Rasmussen made this statement during his two-day visit to Ukraine."I would like to sincerely thank Ukraine for its participation in NATO missions at Balkans, Afghanistan, and maintaining maritime security. These missions strengthen peace and stability," said Rasmussen at the meeting with Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych.
The current scope of Ukraine's cooperation is quite large. Since 1996, Ukraine has sent a significant number of servicemen to Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 2010, Ukrainian corvette Ternopil participated in NATO's Operation Active Endeavour for the fifth time. On top of that, Ukrainian peacemakers are currently stationed in Afghanistan.
NATO Secretary General mentioned that the Alliance does not impose on Ukraine's decisions to be a part of any alliance and respects Ukraine's non-aligned status. He made a special note that he was happy "to visit a country, where people have a high privilege of expressing their thoughtsfreely."
Currently, Ukraine takes practical steps in reorganizing the Ukrainian Armed Forces, in order to create a professional army by 2015. NATO supports the reform process in Ukraine and has agreed to continue providing expertise and resources for it to continue. As of today, NATO assists Ukraine with social adaptation and re-qualification of the dismissed former military personnel, and with management of the consequence caused by the defense reform. NATO is also eager to assist Ukraine and Poland in providing security at the upcoming EURO 2012 the two countries will host.
Ukraine has set a course towards conducting a dialogue with NATO during the presidency of Leonid Kuchma (1994-2005). His successor Victor Yushchenko (2005-2010) nurtured the idea of Ukraine becoming a NATO member, but it wasn't supported by the majority of the population. Ukraine, therefore, kept its non-aligned status. In the recently enacted law on Domestic and Foreign Policy, signed by the President-in-office Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine is to continue on having a constructive partnership with NATO.
NATO-Ukraine relations were formally launched in 1991, when Ukraine joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (now the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council). The 1997 Charter on a Distinctive Partnership, which established the NATO-Ukraine Commission (NUC), has become the formal basis for NATO-Ukraine relations.
SOURCE Worldwide News Ukraine