Today, Allies have agreed a package of three elements to bring Ukraine closer to NATO (North Atlantic Treaty organisation) at its meeting currently being held at Vilnius (Lithuania).
Among the issues decided NATO members have arranged a one step procedure (shorter than usual) for Ukraine to become a member of this Organisation. But the invitation to join NATO and this shorter path for membership will not be issued and applied respectively with while the war keeps ongoing in Ukraine.
“This is a strong package for Ukraine. And a clear path towards its membership in NATO”, NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg underscored.
Jens Stoltenberg informed on NATO plans related Ukraine and many more at a press conference held this same afternoon after the meeting of NATO Heads of State and Government, with Sweden had taken place.
New multi-year assistance programme
“First, a new multi-year assistance programme for Ukraine.
To enable the transition from Soviet-era to NATO standards, training and doctrines.
To help rebuild Ukraine’s security and defence sector.
And to cover critical needs like fuel, demining equipment, and medical supplies,” Stoltenberg explained.
New NATO-Ukraine Council
“Second,” NATO Secretary General added, “a new NATO-Ukraine Council.
A forum for crisis consultations and decision-making.
Where we will meet as equals.
And I look forward to having the inaugural meeting of the Council tomorrow with President Zelenskyy.”
Accession process reduced from two to just one step
“Third,” Jens Stoltenberg added, “we reaffirmed that Ukraine will become a member of NATO.
And agreed to remove the requirement for a Membership Action Plan.
This will change Ukraine’s membership path from a two-step process to a one-step process.
We also made it clear that we will issue an invitation for Ukraine to join NATO when Allies agree and conditions are met.”
And both points constitute the main difference between the declaration signed at Bucharest on Georgia’s and Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations in 2008.
Stoltenberg explained on this point: “There are several differences. One important difference is I think the next sentences at least a bit further down. We say that the next step is Membership Action Plan. And that’s exactly what we removed today. And at every Summit since 2008 we have said Ukraine will become a member, the next step is Membership Action Plan. Now we remove that.
So that’s actually turning this process, which has always been two steps, into one step. That actually moves Ukraine closer to membership and that’s a significant difference from the 2008 language, which has been reiterated at every Summit since 2008. And it has been also a process in NATO to make that decision. Because it was not a straightforward decision to make. I’m glad that Allies agreed and it was the main element in my package I launched in Oslo in May at the Informal Meeting [of Foreign Ministers].
Then there were questions asked whether that was moved too fast and therefore I’m glad that since May since we started this discussion of removing MAP requirements all Allies today have agreed to remove MAP requirements. So that’s difference number one. Difference number two is that we actually now have a program for how to help and support Ukraine move closer to NATO. And that is the interoperability, the multi-year program, but also the strengthening of our political ties and also reference to that the foreign ministers will, also in the text that we have agreed today, will regularly assess progress.
So this together with the fact that the substantial delivery of equipment and training, just by itself, moves Ukraine closer to membership, is a big difference. There is one more difference. And that is that in 2008, Ukraine was quite far from NATO. What has happened since 2008 has already moved them much closer to us.”
On the Bucharest 2008 declaration NATO members had already said: “NATO welcomes Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO. We agreed today that these countries will become members of NATO.”
But there are still requirements for Ukraine to be met with the end of the war at the head
“Well, we have conditions partly in Article 10 of the [North Atlantic] Treaty, the Washington Treaty. And then of course, at the end of the day, it has to be Allies that assess whether conditions are fully met or not. And that’s exactly what Allies then have to agree. And therefore we also refer to both the conditions but also the need for all Allies to agree. That’s the way we make decisions in NATO,” Stoltenberg pointed.
NATO Secretary General added as well on this issue : “I think we have to understand that there are at least two dimensions which we’re addressing. One is the kind of the level, or to what extent they’ve being able to modernize the defence and security institutions to strengthen their governance, including fighting corruption. And this has been issues which have been addressed at every enlargement of NATO. Because we want good governance, we want modern defence and security institutions, and we want armed forces which are interoperable with NATO. We are addressing that, both the modernization of the defence and security institutions and the interoperability with the multi-year programme we agreed.
Then there is another dimension. And that is, of course, the fact that there’s a war going on in Ukraine. The Ukrainian forces have demonstrated courage, skill, competence, that has impressed the whole world. But at the same time, there is a full-fledged war. And therefore, I think all Allies agree that when a war is going on, that’s not the time for making Ukraine a full member of the Alliance. So these are two different things. The question of governance, corruption, interoperability, which is an issue regardless of whether it’s a war or not, and then the other issue is the ongoing war in Ukraine. And we need to address both of them.
At this at the end of the day, it has to be Allies that assess as we always do, when we have enlargement, whether their conditions are met and then make the decision on an invitation. The important with the Communiqué today, is that we have the tools to ensure that Ukraine moves towards a membership. We have for the first time invitation as part of the language. And we have for the first time removed the requirement for the Membership Action Plan. So this is a big step. Never been stronger language from NATO on membership, and never been a more specific announcement on what we are actually going to do to ensure that Ukraine becomes a member of the Alliance.”
Image over the headline.- Left to right:President Gitanas Nauséda (Lithuania); NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg; US President, Joe Biden; Rishi Sunak (UK Prime Minister); President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Turkey). Image, NATO provide for the Press free of charge to illustrate news on the NATO Vilnius meeting (12th July 2023).
Related external links:
Vilnius Summit Communiqué Issued by NATO Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Vilnius 11 July 2023 (points 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 are related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, support for Ukraine and plans for Ukraine joining NATO after the war)