Source Pravda.Ru

Rapprochement with NATO stands high on Ukraine's priority list

President Leonid Kuchma said at a meeting of the Ukraine-NATO Commission, in Istanbul on Tuesday, that Ukraine sought a higher level of cooperation with the alliance, reports the Ukrainian president's press office.

Ukraine has been one of the most dynamically developing economies in Europe, according to Mr Kuchma. Besides, the president noted that the positive macroeconomic indicators were accompanied by growing incomes of the population, the stability of the national currency, and a better investment climate.

Mr Kuchma also noted a stable political situation in his country, its public accord and ethnic tolerance.

"This enables us to seek a higher level of relations with NATO," said the Ukrainian president.

Mr Kuchma emphasised that Kiev believed it would hopefully step up practical cooperation with NATO. Ukraine is, for example, interested in contributing to the NATO Prague summit's initiative, according to the president.

(The NATO nations resolved at the Prague summit in November 2002 to focus on the new challenges of the 21 century emanating from terrorists, rogue states and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Besides, the NATO leaders agreed to raise 20,000-men-strong rapid retaliation forces, invest in new materiel, including reconnaissance aircraft, smart bombs and jamming devices, and reform the alliance's military command.

The NATO leaders also said in the communique that they pledged to streamline the alliance's relations with the partner countries.)

In addition, Ukraine can join in the Active Endeavour operation in the Mediterranean (NATO navy vessels check suspicious looking ships with the aim of seizing mass destruction weapons and their component parts).

Ukraine is also set to continue cooperation with NATO in their joint projects that have already proved to be a success. "The disposal of stockpiles of weapons, light armaments and small arms is one of the most important of them," said Mr Kuchma.

"A recent tragedy caused by the fire at the ammunition depots in southern Ukraine uncovered a lot of acute problems. Ukraine is prepared to implement a new project in this sphere," said Mr Kuchma. (Fire at the depot with artillery shells and missiles, which broke out due to servicemen's negligence, killed 5 men and caused considerable damage).

Mr Kuchma also pledged to carry on military reform and cooperation with NATO in this area. He said Ukraine had adopted a military doctrine and strategic defence bulletin for the period till 2015, while the parliament had passed laws on army reform.

"More intensive integration into the North Atlantic alliance and the profound reform of the defence sphere in line with European standards are among the priorities in Ukraine's foreign and internal policy," emphasised Mr Kuchma.

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