The parliamentary dimension of NATO – Ukraine cooperation
The parliamentary dimension of NATO – Ukraine cooperation consists of three elements – collaboration between the Parliament of Ukraine and Parliamentary Assembly (PA) of NATO, legislative support for Ukraine’s course towards full membership in NATO, parliamentary control over the implementation of the strategy for Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine.
In the NATO PA Ukraine is represented by the Permanent Delegation from Ukrainian Parliament, which since May 1992 has the status of an associate member. Members of the Permanent Delegation take part in the annual sessions of NATO PA that usually happen in spring and autumn.
The Assembly’s role in developing relations with Ukrainian Parliament is defined in the Charter on Distinctive Partnership between NATO and Ukraine of 1997, which calls for an expanded dialogue and cooperation between the Parliamentary Assembly and the Parliament of Ukraine. Particular attention is paid to help to achieve a key “Partnership for Peace” (PfP) program objective – democratic control over the armed forces. The Assembly complements the work of the Alliance within the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) and thePfP program. The purpose of this activity by NATO PA is to provide information and recommendations to assist the parliaments of partner-states to more effectively influence the development of defence policy in their countries and provide real democratic control over their armed forces.
The founding normative document in NATO-Ukraine cooperation became the Parliament Resolution of November 21, 2002 “On recommendations of parliamentary hearings on relations and cooperation between Ukraine and NATO”, where the Parliament of Ukraine for the first time in the history of Ukraine has expressed its support for Ukraine’s course towards full membership in NATO.
In 2005, on the initiative of the Ukrainian side, party leaders of the Permanent Delegations of Ukraine, Georgia and Azerbaijan signed a declaration on joint actions in the field of European integration.
Parliamentary oversight of the implementation of the Euro-Atlantic integration strategy is conducted by the Ukrainian Parliament independently (through the Special Parliamentary Committee monitoring the implementation of NATO – Ukraine Action Plan) and in cooperation with NATO PA. At the bilateral level, such control was ensured by the established in November 2000 under the provision of the Charter on Distinctive Partnership between NATO and Ukraine, Joint Monitoring Group of the Ukrainian Parliament and NATO PA. In March 2013, this group was reorganised into the NATO – Ukraine Inter-Parliamentary Council. The main task of the Council is parliamentary facilitation of the proper implementation of the Annual National Programme, as well as the analysis of its implementation. Inter-Parliamentary Council meets twice a year, alternately in Brussels and in Kyiv.
NATO PA together with other structural divisions of the Alliance and the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces organised a series of seminars for Ukrainian MPs on various aspects of civilian control over the military.
Important information component of cooperation within NATO PA is Rose-Roth program, which aims to inform the public and partner-states of NATO’s aims and activities of the Alliance through seminars, conferences and other forums. The main objective is to hold seminars, conferences and forums related to the issues in Central and Eastern Europe. Typically, the subject of these events concerns civil-military aspects of cooperation, in particular the democratic control over the armed forces both, within the Alliance, and in relations with partner countries. The seminars’ and conferences’ aim is to inform the participants about the need to involve parliaments in the processes of defence planning, budgeting and reform of the armed forces.
Another component of the program is to attract professionals from Central and Eastern Europe to work in the Secretariat of the International Assembly. With this aim, annual educational and informational programs for staff of national parliaments of Central and Eastern European states are held.
Political dialogue at the parliamentary level covers topical issues on the agenda of NATO – Ukraine cooperation, in particular, Ukraine’s role and place in modern European security, in regional security, cooperation in reforms of defence and military sectors, response to emergency situations, strengthening of democratic electoral institutions, rule of law and so on.
Today, the parliamentary cooperation between Ukraine and NATO develops, in general, dynamically, as evidenced by the active contacts between the Parliament of Ukraine and NATO at the high level during bilateral visits, regular participation of the Permanent Delegation from Ukrainian parliament in NATO PA events, NATO – Ukraine Inter-Parliamentary Council activity, and organisation of parliamentary round tables NATO – Ukraine.
Thus, over the past year, within the inter-parliamentary dialogue, Permanent Delegation of Ukrainian Parliament took part in the NATO PA Committees’ meetings in the annual spring session of NATO PA (May 30 – June 2, 2014, Vilnius) and the autumn session of NATO PA (November 22-24, 2014, Hague).
At the plenary meeting of the spring session of NATO PA in Vilnius on May 30, 2014, “Declaration on Supporting Ukraine” was unanimously adopted. This document became the basis of the NATO PA resolution №411 supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty and democracy, which was approved at the plenary session of NATO PA autumn session in Hague on November 24, 2014. The Declaration was one of the firmest public statements of international community to support Ukraine and condemn Russian aggression, its invasion of the sovereign territory of Ukraine, the occupation of eastern territories and the annexation of Crimea.
Ukrainian Parliament delegation, headed by the Deputy Chairman of the Parliament R.V.Koshulynskyi participated in the meeting of the Standing Committee of NATO PA (April 4-6, 2014, Riga). As a rule, representatives of the countries that are not NATO members are not invited to the meetings of the Standing Committee of NATO PA. However, in the view of the beginning of Russian military aggression against Ukraine, the leadership of the Assembly decided to include the issues of political situation in Ukraine in the agenda and invite Ukrainian representatives.
Its consistent support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity, independence, sovereignty and desire to follow the path of democratic reforms, NATO PA leadership has repeatedly pronounced in their statements. Condemnation of Russia’s aggressive policy towards Ukraine, illegal annexation of Crimea, and calls for tougher sanctions from the EU and NATO were the main messages in the NATO PA senior officials’ speeches.
In order to further demonstrate the support to Ukraine, including its European aspirations, after the signing of the Association Agreement with the EU, NATO PA delegation led by its President H.Bayley visited Ukraine on July 24, 2014, where the delegation met with the speaker of the Parliament O.V.Turchynov and the Prime Minister of Ukraine A.P.Yatsenyuk.
Readiness to continue the active dialogue with the Parliament of Ukraine, NATO PA’s unwavering support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity, its political independence and democratic way of development was also expressed by the newly appointed NATO PA President M.Turner (American congressman, elected as NATO PA President in November 2014). He carried out his first foreign visit as a President of NATO PA to Kyiv on December 15-16, 2014.
March 12-13, 2015 a group of MPs led by the Head of the Permanent Delegation of Ukrainian Parliament in NATO PA I.Klympush-Tsintsadze visited the NATO and NATO PA headquarters at the invitation of the leadership of these organisations.
May 16-18, 2015 Permanent Delegation of Ukrainian Parliament in NATO PA took part in the spring session of the NATO PA (Budapest). Head of the delegation I.Klympush-Tsintsadze took part in the debate on the impacts of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine on Euro-Atlantic security. Special guest at the session was the First Deputy Chairman of the Ukrainian Parliament A.Parubiy. Within the session, NATO PA approved the Declaration “On the expansion of the Alliance”, which, particularly in the context of recognition of restoration of Ukraine’s aspirations for Euro-Atlantic integration, the Assembly urged the Ukrainian government and Parliament to make every effort to reform our country in line with Euro-Atlantic democratic standards.
June 8, 2015 meeting of the NATO – Ukraine Inter-Parliamentary Council took place in Kyiv, during which the participants discussed the issues of the security situation in Ukraine and threats to its national security, the prospects for Euro-Atlantic integration, implementation of Annual National Programme of NATO – Ukraine cooperation, and international assistance for Ukraine to implement necessary reforms.