The interview of Vice Secretary General of NATO on political issues and security James Appathurai.
— Mr. Appathurai, you have come to Ukraine to make preliminary evaluations of the Annual National NATO Cooperation Program accomplishment by the country. Recently the situation with democracy in our state has worsened: human rights and freedoms are being violated, political opponents of authorities are being persecuted. In particular, we are talking about Julia Timoshenko. In this respect, how do you evaluate Kiev’s work under the ANP?
— It’s still early to esteem the reforms in Ukraine. As you have fairly noted, my visit is only preliminary conclusions. Primarily we should provide all the gathered information to our international secretariat. Further it shall be given to the representatives of the Alliance states. They, correspondently, should develop and report us the views of their capitals. Only afterwards final evaluation of the success of Ukraine within accomplishment of the ANP shall be given.
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But in this program we are talking not only about reforms in defense and security sectors. The ANP also concerns the issues of democratic values and legal reforms. In due time NATO Secretary General through the press secretary of the organization revealed disappointment with Timoshenko case. I think that the Alliance members shall express their opinion on the ANP accomplishment considering also the trial over Julia Timoshenko.
— During their meetings with Ukrainian authorities you planned to discuss the state of democracy in Ukraine. Did you manage to do this? Or did your interlocutors preferred to talk about reforms in security sector?
— Neither Ukrainian party nor we declined to discuss the issues of democracy, democratic values and the situation with these values in Ukraine. I once again have presented the line of NATO on Timoshenko case, and within the context of the ANP accomplishment, we discussed the issues of court and judicial system. We have very good, sincere and open relations. Which naturally was once again proved during the discussion of this delicate issue.
— Shall court cases towards the representatives of the opposition, general worsening the situation with democracy, affect the level of cooperation between Ukraine and NATO?
— I wouldn’t like to give indirect answers, but I’ll repeat I can’t give the evaluations right now. This is the right of the Alliance member-states to make a decision about the level of the relations with Ukraine, and how shall they extend. Nevertheless, I should note that our practical cooperation promotes. The example for this is the contribution of Ukraine into the operations of NATO, as well as assistance which the alliance is ready to provide our country within arrangement of Euro-2012 or within solution of the matters, related to utilization of surplus of munitions, small-arms and light armament. Naturally, our practical cooperation is performed in political context. And of course the members of the Alliance shall take it into account by the evaluation of level and quality of our relations.
— Many Alliance members are simultaneously the EU members. And some politicians from the EU member-states have recently called to impose target sanctions towards Ukrainian officials persecuting opposition. How efficient can be sanctions, foreign pressure to get Ukraine back to democracy?
— NATO and the EU have different mandates. NATO as an organization doesn’t apply sanctions: this is not an instrument and not the competence of the North-Atlantic Treaty Organization. The same the Alliance doesn’t express its view towards the actions of individual EU and NATO member-states.
However, in order to get more complete image of the things happening in your country, and once again to prove the liabilities of NATO to support Ukraine within the case of democratic values enhancement, during the visit to Kiev I met the representatives of the opposition and social organizations. And the things I heard from them, naturally, shall be considered by the development of the final estimation of the ANP accomplishment by Ukraine.
— After your meetings in Kiev, what is your opinion about the attitudes of Ukraine towards the ANP accomplishment?
— For me, it's absolutely obvious that for Ukraine the accomplishment of this program is not only a significant priority, but also the main format for further development of cooperation with NATO. We have common views on this issue and we are glad that we were able to underline this.
Ukraine for itself preferred to choose out-block status. But this by no means hasn’t impeded us to continue, develop, deepen and extend our cooperation.
Naturally, there are always opportunities for perfection and we discussed in details all the aspects, demanding more intense efforts at least in general coordination by complex reforms. I should say that my interlocutors from Ukraine were pretty sincere and open.
— Last domestic political events in Ukraine have incited in Western partners of Kiev doubts on the sincerity of intentions of the current administration to keep to the policy of European integration. After the talk with Ukrainian authorities did you make a conclusion, where does Ukraine move – the European Union and Eurasian one?
— We didn’t discuss the issue of general orientation of your country, as we think that you yourself are the ones to decide and choose the way to follow. I have the impression that Ukraine also with this administration tries to find balance between its national interests and its relations with neighbor states, as well as with the countries of European region. Naturally, Ukraine and its people should decide on their own to which extent do they need this balance and how to assure it. But till the time your country is willing to cooperate with NATO and that deep it desires, the Alliance shall be ready to respond with the same.
— Which is the agenda for relations of Ukraine – NATO?
— We talked for example about the possibilities of our support by the accomplishment of reforms by Ukraine. Also we discussed the contribution of your country into operations, which NATO at the moment holds and about options of continuation of this cooperation in future. We considered the issue of special target fund, urgent to utilize the surplus munitions, small arms and light armament, and also target fund to be intended to solve the problem of the remains of radioactive materials. Except for that, we talked about opportunities of our cooperation within the context of Euro-2012 arrangement and assurance of the urgent level of security by this event.
Also we discussed European issues of security. The aspects, for example, like control over ordinary armament and anti-missile defense. But I want to underline that when we talked about Missile Defense we simple exchanged the views and information. It wasn’t about practical cooperation in this sphere.
— And who was the initiator of Missile Defense discussion?
— I was the initiator. But I’d like to note that the talk was within the context of the oncoming NATO summit in Chicago and those main subjects to be discussed there. Missile defense is one of these issues. Exactly within this context I informed my Ukrainian colleagues about NATO’s line.
— Ukrainian officials state that despite that Ukraine has become an out-block state, the quality of cooperation with NATO has improved in comparison with the times of Viktor Yushchenko’s presidency. Is it right?
—From practical point of view by the new president the number of planned joint events hasn’t reduced. In other words, we can say that the new administration is logical with it. In some issues, probably, our cooperation has even promoted. But we have never performed a comparative analysis of that how this cooperation developed by two different administrations.
— Ukraine reforms its own armed forces within the context of greater compatibility with the armed forces of the North-Atlantic Alliance member-states. How would you assess the readiness of Ukrainian army for joint actions with NATO units?
— Ukraine naturally has demonstrated also the possibilities and desire to do this. Of course we help Ukraine to increase the resources and forces which it provides for the North-Atlantic Alliance operations and to assure a sufficient level compatibility with NATO forces, with which it shall participate in these operations. Naturally also is that not all units of Ukrainian armed forces are at the same level of operative compatibility or readiness to act jointly with NATO forces. Another serious work is urgent, and it is about financing and assurance of the process of professionalization of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
— The CSTO member-states, actively strive for the recognition of this organization by NATO. Is the Alliance going somehow to interact with “Tashkent Pact”?
— NATO representatives participated in these international events together with the representatives of the CSTO. There has been only one or two kind of events. But as for NATO as an organization then it has no consensus towards formalization of relations with the CSTO. I don’t think that in the near future the kind of consensus shall be achieved.
Translated by EuroDialogueXXI from RFI Zerkalo Nedeli