Press Release
06 July 1997


The NATO-Ukraine Charter - First Act or Curtain Call?

On July 8th NATO's 16 heads of state and government and the Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma will sign a "Charter on a Distinctive Partnership". The Charter, which has been made available to the Berlin Information-center for Transatlantic Security (BITS), follows recently signed agreements, such as the NATO-Russia "Founding Act" and the Russian-Ukrainian treaties. They are intended to rearrange European security structures at the brink of NATO-enlargement.

NATO commits itself in the Charter to "continue to support Ukrainian sovereignty and independence ... and the principle of inviolability of frontiers as key factors of stability and security in Central and Eastern Europe." While the Charter does not contain any defense or security guarantees, it however commits NATO and the Ukraine to consult "whenever Ukraine perceive a direct threat to its territorial integrity, political independence or security".

The Charter does neither foreclose nor envisage future Ukrainian NATO membership, but it explicitly states "the inherent right of all states" to "be free to choose or change its security arrangements, including treaties of alliance, as they evolve."

"In the short-term the Charter is unlikely to cause substantial irritation or opposition in Russia. However, the mid- to long-term perspective of keeping the option of Ukrainian membership to NATO open is what causes most concerns for NATO-Russia relations", says Otfried Nassauer, Director of the Berlin Information-center for Transatlantic Security. "Moscow could interpret: NATO tries to keep the option of encircling Russia."

Since a future Ukrainian application for NATO membership "cannot be treated as hypothetical" writes John Borawski, Director of the Political Committee of the North Atlantic Assembly, "NATO will have to consider seriously whether or not, in fact, its doors remain open to any European state regardless where it sits on the map."

The Berlin Information-center for Transatlantic Security will publish the text of the charter together with comments and analysis written by seven former officials and researchers from Russia, the Ukraine, the UK and the US. Among the commentators are Ambassador Jonathan Dean (US), Admiral (ret.) Sir James Eberle (UK), Prof. Sergiy P. Galaka (Ukraine), and Dmitri
Trenin (Russia).


For further information or a copy of the research note, please contact Otfried Nassauer