The NATO-Ukraine Commission met in Brussels at the level of Defence Ministers on 8 June, to discuss Ukraine’s defence policy and the ongoing transformation of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Ministers reiterated their determination to continue working together to support the reform of Ukraine’s defence and security sector, according to the NATO press-release.

      In particular, Ministers expressed their commitment to strengthen democratic institutions, encourage respect for shared Euro-Atlantic values and accomplish wide-reaching reforms throughout the defence and security sector, with a view to further supporting the achievement of Ukraine`s reform objectives and her Euro-Atlantic integration aspirations. In this context, Ministers expressed their satisfaction with the ongoing NATO-Ukraine Intensified Dialogue on membership aspirations and relevant reforms, without prejudice to any eventual Alliance decision. Allied Ministers also welcomed the publication by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence of the first annual White Book on the Defence Policy of Ukraine for 2005, as well as efforts to implement the State Programme for the Development of the Armed Forces of Ukraine for 2006-2011. Minister Grytsenko outlined the practical efforts being undertaken with a view to helping Ukraine’s Armed Forces achieve NATO standards in accordance with the NATO-Ukraine Action Plan, the Military Committee Work Plan, and the PfP Planning and Review Process. He also indicated Ukraine’s readiness to further intensify these efforts.

      Ministers also stressed the continuing importance to Ukraine’s NATO membership aspirations of effective reforms in Ukraine’s security sector.

Considering the progress achieved by Ukraine in this area, Ministers welcomed the ongoing implementation of the National Security Sector Review in Ukraine and confirmed that the NATO-Ukraine Joint Working Group on Defence Reform (JWGDR) should continue to provide a key mechanism for channelling NATO-Ukraine cooperation in support of defence and security sector-related reform. Ministers also agreed to continue to use the JWGDR to assist Ukraine in transforming her security sector with a view to aligning it more closely with Euro-Atlantic values and standards. To this end, joint consultations will be continued with the participation of the relevant NATO and Allied experts and authorities including in the framework of the JWGDR Co-operation Plan on the National Security Sector Review in Ukraine.

      Allied Ministers also reiterated their readiness to continue to assist Ukraine in strengthening civil and democratic control over security and defence structures. In this regard, the Ministers welcomed the ongoing implementation of the JWGDR Programme for Professional Development of Civilian Personnel employed in Ukrainian security institutions. Ministers also emphasised the importance of NATO-Ukraine co-operation in further developing by Ukraine an effective national defence planning system. They also called for further efforts aimed at better harmonising bilateral co-operation being delivered to Ukraine by individual Allies.

      Ministers also reaffirmed the continuing importance of managing consequences of defence and security sector reforms in Ukraine, and expressed satisfaction with the commencement of the safe destruction of stockpiles of surplus munitions, small arms and light weapons, and Man-Portable Air Defence Systems through the Partnership for Peace Trust Fund Project. They also reiterated their continuing support for the NATO-Ukraine retraining programme for released military personnel and the Partnership for Peace Trust Fund Project which supports the military Retraining Centre in Khmilnytskiy.

      Ministers also reviewed Ukraine’s substantial involvement in peacekeeping and peace-support operations which includes force contributions to KFOR, training personnel for the NATO Training Mission in Iraq, and practical steps of Ukraine supporting the Operation Active Endeavour in the Mediterranean. Ukraine’s readiness to provide logistical support to the NATO-led ISAF operation in Afghanistan and the African Union Mission in Darfur were also discussed.

      Ministers also took note with appreciation of the invitation extended at the meeting by the Minister of Defence of Portugal to attend the 2006 High-Level NATO-Ukraine Consultations to be held in October in Lisbon.