NATO To Continue Assisting Ukraine In Defense Reforms, Pursuit Of Membership

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- NATO reiterated Thursday its strong determination to sustain efforts to assist Ukraine in implementing defense and security reforms and in pursuing membership of the military bloc.

Ukraine's Defence Minister Anatoly Hrytsenko briefs the media after meeting NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer (not pictured) at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels June 14, 2007.

NATO defense ministers made the pledge at a meeting of the NATO- Ukraine Commission, marking the 10th anniversary of the NATO- Ukraine Distinctive Partnership.

"NATO members are ready to assist Ukraine in the process" of aspiring for NATO membership, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told Ukrainian Defense Minister Anatoliy Grytsenko at a post-meeting press conference.

In a statement issued after the meeting, NATO ministers voiced strong determination to continue to develop the "strategically important" partnership with Ukraine including through reinforcing efforts to assist Ukraine in conducting public information campaigns about NATO and its roles.

"Ministers reiterated their strong commitment to and support for Euro-Atlantic values and agreed to continue to work together to strengthen the principles of the rule of law including through ensuring effective civil and democratic control of security and defense structures and supporting the development of democratic institutions," said the statement.

NATO defense ministers applauded Ukraine's contribution to common security, noting that Ukraine is the only NATO partner country that was involved in all current NATO operations and missions.

Meanwhile, the ministers stressed the need to continue to implement "wide-ranging reforms" particularly in Ukraine's intelligence and security services as part of the country's National Security Sector Review in its pursuit of Euro-Atlantic integration.

The NATO-Ukraine Commission session was part of the two-day NATO defense ministers' meeting, which opened Thursday morning at the bloc's headquarters.

Source: Xinhua