March 10, 2018

The Ukraine-NATO Interparliamentary Council met in Odesa

March 5–6, 2018 a meeting of the Ukraine-NATO Interparliamentary Council (UNIC) was held in Odesa. The meeting was organized by representatives of the Permanent Delegation of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA).

Ukraine was represented at the event by: First Deputy Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, co-chair of the Ukraine-NATO Interparliamentary Council Iryna Gerashchenko, Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Ivanna Klimpush-Tsintsadze, Head of the Permanent Delegation of the Verkhovna Rada to the NATO PA, MP Iryna Fryz, members of the Permanent Delegation to the NATO PA, MPs Oleksiy Skrypnyk and Oksana Yurynets, Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, MP Refat Chubarov, Deputy Head of the parliamentary faction of the party “Petro Poroshenko's Bloc”, member of the Permanent Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Oleksiy Honcharenko, Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration Dmytro Shymkiv, Minister of Temporarily Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced Persons Vadym Chernysh, First Deputy Defense Minister Ivan Rusnak, Navy Commander of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Vice Admiral Ihor Voronchenko, Governor of the Odesa Region Maksym Stepanov, Head of Odesa Regional Council Anatoliy Urbanskyi.

From the side of foreign participants, the event was attended by: Head of the NATO Representation to Ukraine Alexander Vinnikov, Director of the NATO Information and Documentation Centre in Ukraine Barbora Maronkova, Chair of the Canadian Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, member of the NATO PA, co-chair of the Ukraine-NATO Interparliamentary Council Raynell Andreychuk, Vice Presidents of NATO PA Rasa Jukneviciene (Lithuania) and Metin Lutfi Baydar (Turkish Republic), delegations of Bulgaria, Great Britain, France, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, the heads of diplomatic missions in Ukraine, professionals, experts and representatives of civil society.

Ukraine-NATO Interparliamentary Council in Odesa

March 5, Ukraine-NATO Interparliamentary Council meeting was held at the Bristol Hotel. Representatives of Ukraine and more than fifty parliamentarians from participating countries discussed the following issues: Ukraine-NATO Cooperation and Assessment of the Implementation of the Annual National Programme of Ukraine-NATO Cooperation for 2017; measures under this program for 2018; Ukraine’s Reform Agenda; Development of Ukraine’s Armed Forces and Russia’s Military Capabilities in the Black Sea Region; Militarization of the Crimea and Violation of the Human Rights; Black Sea Region — Economic Issues and Energy Security; Humanitarian and Security Situation at the East of Ukraine.

Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Ivanna Klimpush-Tsintsadze

Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Ivanna Klimpush-Tsintsadze reported on the implementation of the Annual National Programme of Ukraine-NATO Cooperation in 2017:

— “The Annual National Programme for 2017 contained 375 activities. We can say that 82 % of this Programme was implemented, that is, 307 of the planned activities were implemented by various ministries and departments. This means that we did not abandon the rest of the tasks — 18 %, they will be realized next year. For 2018, the Annual National Programme already has 444 activities and provides for involvement of 58 ministries and central executive authorities to implement it. The work on the preparation of a Programme for 2019 is underway. Following its loss of the case in the Stockholm Arbitration, the Russian Federation actively began to blackmail Ukraine with its readiness to immediately break existing contacts in the sphere of supplying Russian gas to Ukraine. In this way, Russia tried to present Ukraine as an unreliable transit agent, as an unreliable partner in the eyes of the EU and NATO member states. But the Ukrainian government's quick and effective reaction stopped that blackmail. This case shows that Russia's aggression continues and it is not focused solely on one region in the East of Ukraine. It can take on different forms — such as energy attacks, economic interventions, and armed attacks. Russia's intervention and aggression are aimed not only against Ukraine, it is also directed against Europe and the whole world…

I want to point out that the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, whose representatives are currently taking part in the UNIC meeting, is probably the most consensual assembly that, from the very beginning of the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, took a very clear and unequivocal position regarding the Russian delegation by adopting a decision on unacceptability of its further participation in the activities of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, which has never tried to reconsider this decision in any way since the vast majority of national delegations are clearly aware that Russia has no endeavors in any way to implement the Minsk Agreements”, — said Ivanna Klimpush-Tsintsadze.

First Deputy Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada
of Ukraine Iryna Gerashchenko

First Deputy Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Iryna Gerashchenko:

— It is extremely pleasant that for the first time the Ukraine-NATO Interparliamentary Council is taking place in Odesa. Symbolically, this dialogue, which brought together participants from twelve NATO member states, is taking place on the day of the fourth anniversary of the annexation of the Crimea and, in fact, of the beginning of the occupation of the Ukrainian land of the Donbas. Actually, during this debate, we hear very important words of support from NATO countries, it clearly states that sanctions against the Russian Federation should continue until the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements and the return of the Crimea. This means not only security and release of hostages, but also liberation of the Ukrainian-Russian border in the Donbas. Today, we will actively discuss the cooperation that should be between Ukraine and NATO, first of all in the context of the implementation of our legislation, bringing it to the standards of NATO countries. In Ukraine, a civilian defence minister may appear, as in most NATO countries.

Today, Ukraine is struggling for the restoration of our territory in full. This means the liberation of the Donbas and the liberation of the Crimea. During press conference the President of Ukraine made it very clear that today the Armed Forces of Ukraine are ready not only to resist, but also to liberate the occupied territories. But again I emphasize in order to prevent any speculation, Ukraine stands by the fact that we must first of all make every effort to resolve the situation in the Donbas in a political and diplomatic way. Diplomats, not artillery, have to speak, in order for peace to come. We are talking with you on the day when there was a complete armistice in the Donbas, when at the latest meeting in Minsk the sides seemed to have agreed that a truce will come on March 5. But we see that from the first day of silence the agreements have been violated, and behind this are not only the Kremlin's puppets, who for today are the so-called “power” in the occupied territory, behind this there is the Kremlin.

I would like to mention a few figures about the terrible consequences of Russia's occupation of the Donbas. During the years of the Russian-Ukrainian war, 2378 Ukrainian military have been killed. During this time, 138 children have died, killed or blown up by land mines. 1399 women have become widows, 2,217 mothers have lost their sons. These are the terrible figures Ukraine pays for the defense of our independence. Obviously, we expect the world's support through the use of tough sanctions against the Russian Federation. The aggressor's hands must be bound and should not have the means to fight. We expect from our partners not offensive but defensive weapons. In this context, the position of the United States and Canada, which have finally decided on selling defensive weapons to Ukraine, is very important. We are starting preparations for the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, which for the first time will be held in Ukraine in 2020. Governor of the Odesa Region suggested that the NATO PA should be held in Odesa. I think that there will be serious competition in Ukraine, but the idea is good.

Governor of the Odesa Region Maksym Stepanov

Governor of the Odesa Region Maksym Stepanov:

— Today's event is very important both for Ukraine as a whole, and for Odesa region — in particular. Our region is multinational and multicultural. But the inhabitants of the Odesa region are united in their desire for reforms, aspiration for democratic change, aspiration of European values. I want to emphasize that cooperation with NATO is not just a purely military-political measure, but also many reforms of various aspects of our lives. It's not just that somewhere in Kyiv, someone has to be in charge of something. It all depends on us, because we need reforms. This relates to the reform of local self-government and decentralization, transparency of power, prevention and counteraction to corruption, which is what we desire. I am very grateful that the choice of holding such an event fell exactly on Odesa region. Indeed, Odesa is the maritime trade gate of Ukraine and the location of the Naval Forces of our country. Our country's security is very important for any citizen of Ukraine. The issues that are being considered at today's meeting will be another proof of our European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations. I believe that such a meetings and resolutions that will be adopted on the basis of these meetings will be aimed exclusively at improving the security of our country.

First Deputy Defense Minister Ivan Rusnak and Navy Commander of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Vice Admiral Ihor Voronchenkospoke within the framework of the discussion themed “Development of Ukraine’s Armed Forces and Russia’s Military Capabilities in the Black Sea Region”.

First Deputy Defense Minister of Ukraine Ivan Rusnak

Addressing the audience, Ivan Rusnak pointed out: “For four years, Ukraine, with the support of the democratic world, has been counteracting Russia's hybrid aggression. The enemy keeps violating the ceasefire agreement. All this is happening against the background of Russia's active information pressure to justify its position and to discredit Ukraine, including the European vector of development we have chosen”.

According to I. Rusnak, Ukraine prefers political and diplomatic ways of resolving the conflict. A key element of Ukraine's position is the deployment of a full-fledged UN Mission with a mandate for the entire temporarily occupied territory, providing international control over a part of the Ukrainian-Russian state border in the conflict zone, withdrawal from the territory of Ukraine of all illegal armed formations and regular troops of the Russian Federation. It is necessary to exclude Russia's participation in the UN Mission. The Armed Forces of Ukraine are a decisive factor in the deterrence of Russian aggression.

“The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine consistently implements measures to reform the Armed Forces. The reform process is carried out in accordance with NATO standards and with the help of the Allies”, I. Rusnak emphasized.

Navy Commander of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Vice Admiral Ihor Voronchenko

Navy Commander of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Vice Admiral Ihor Voronchenko told the participants of the meeting about contemporary views on the concept of further development of the Ukrainian Navy in the immediate and medium term. He said that, responding to the numerous violations of international law by the aggressor country, NATO has considerably expanded its activities in the Black Sea region over the past two years, increasing its combat capabilities in the interests of collective security. NATO ships' visits to Ukrainian ports and joint exercises testify to the support of Ukraine. The Navy Commander pointed out that we appreciate such support and hope for its continuation and further development. According to him, Ukrainian Navy is actively cooperating with NATO, and the Alliance is helping Ukraine in defense of the sovereignty and development of our Navy.


Co-chairs of the UNIC Iryna Gerashchenko and Raynell Andreychuk issued a final Statement

At the close of the Forum, co-chairs of the Interparliamentary Council — First Deputy Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada Iryna Gerashchenko and member of the NATO PA, Canadian SenatorRaynell Andreychuk issued a Statement confirming on behalf of the members of the Ukraine-NATO Interparliamentary Council a firm support to the independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine, condemned the Russian Federation's political, military, economic assistance to illegal armed formations in occupied districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, illegal detention of Ukrainian hostages and political prisoners in Russia and in the occupied territories. The Statement explicitly emphasizes the importance of the successful reformation of the national security and defence sector of Ukraine, in which the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine should play a key role. The Annual National Programme of Ukraine-NATO Cooperation for 2018 is intended to become a leading tool for fulfilling the tasks of achieving Ukraine's compliance with the criteria for membership in the Alliance. The co-chairs of the Interparliamentary Council urged the leaders of NATO member states to meet at the next summit in Brussels in July 2018 to reaffirm Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic prospects and provide it with all-round assistance needed for institutional rapprochement with the North Atlantic Alliance and called on the parliamentarians from these countries to strengthen solidarity and support Ukraine in their national parliaments.

March 6, the participants of the event visited the Ukrainian Navy’s Western Naval Base, where, accompanied by Base Commander Captain 1st Rank Oleksiy Doskato, they inspected its infrastructure and talked with the command and staff personal. Accompanied by Ukrainian Navy Commander Vice Admiral Ihor Voronchenko, the participants of the event visited the flagship of the Ukrainian Navy frigate “Hetman Sahaydachniy”.

Roundtable on Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic prospects at the Odesa Mechnikov National University

The same day, at the Institute of Social Sciences (ISS) of the Odesa Mechnikov National University (Director — Professor Victor Glebov), participants of the Ukraine-NATO Interparliamentary Council met with students, teachers and representatives of the NGO in Odesa, and also took part in a roundtable on Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic prospects. The moderator of the roundtable was Rector of the ONU, Doctor of Political Science, Professor Ihor Koval. Speeches at the roundtable were delivered by:

— Chief of the Department of International Relations of the ISS, Doctor of Political Sciences, Professor Olha Brusylovska (the report themed “NATO Factor in Russian-Ukrainian Relations”);

— Associate Professor of the Department of International Relations of the ISS, Senior Research Fellow of the Center for International Studies, Ph.D. of Political Science Serhiy Glebov (the report “Security Dynamics in the Black Sea Region: Challenges to Euro-Atlantic Security”);

— Associate Professor of the Department of International Relations of the ISS, Director of the Center for International Studies, Ph.D. of Political Science Volodymyr Dubovyk (the report “Ukraine's Security Choices”).

— Deputy Editor of the journal “UA: Ukraine Analytica” Anastasia Herasymchuk (the report “Political Relations in the Triangle: Ukraine-USA-Russia”).

— Senior Research Fellow of the Independent Analytical Center for Geopolitical Studies “Borysfen Intel” (Kyiv), Ph.D. in History Oleksiy Volovych with a report themed “Energy Aspects of the Russian-Ukrainian Confrontation”.


After each of these speeches, discussions took place, during which the speakers answered the questions of the present.

In the afternoon, the participants of the meeting of the Ukraine-NATO Interparliamentary Council had an excursion “Multicultural Odesa”.