Kyiv, 11 November 1998 (RFE/RL) -- A group of Ukrainian generals, politicians and policy-makers is to travel later this month to Harvard University in the United States for a ten-day seminar.
The visit is organized by the U.S. Department of Defense. The subject under discussion will be Ukrainian national security.
Nancy Huntington, who directs the Harvard Ukrainian National Security Program, says that the seminar reflects the Western interest in Ukraine's stability and security. In her words, "a stable and independent Ukraine is of critical importance to peace and stability in Europe as a whole".
Vadim Tyutyunnyk from the Ukrainian National Security Council says such meetings are important for the Ukrainians as well. He said "when (Ukrainian) representatives go abroad they can cast a perspective eye on events and structures in Ukraine". He added that they "become better acquainted with the U.S. point of view on security in Europe and on the re-building of the Ukrainian state and military."
The Harvard Ukrainian National Security Program got underway last year, when 30 high-level military and civilian officials from Ukraine attended two weeks of intensive lectures and discussions at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
Along with the Ukrainians, four U.S. generals attended. This year six to eight are expected to participate.
The John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard's graduate school of public administration and policy, has been offering similar courses for Russian military officers since 1991.
The Ukrainian course, however, is supposed to reach civilian and even non-government decision-makers from strategic institutes and the media.
Participants are selected jointly by Ukrainian authorities and by Harvard, said the National Security Council's Tyutyunnyk, who organized the course at the Ukrainian end. He said his side chooses candidates with management abilities who have the potential of going on to hold positions of influence.
Harvard's Huntington recalls that the program had its inception in 1996 with a small group of what she called 'Ukraine Watchers' at Harvard, herself included. She said they had long been tracking Ukraine's foreign policy in relation to its suddenly important position between Western Europe and Russia.
The seminar looks at topics like post-Cold War deterrence, NATO's Partnership for Peace program, and policy formulation. The Ukrainians are instructed in decision-making processes and in internal policy like relations between general staffs and ministries of defense.
The classes are led by Washington policy-makers both current and retired, and top academics from Harvard and other universities.
Tyutyunnyk was impressed by the high level of the American instructors last year and was particularly pleased by the opportunity to communicate with Pentagon generals. He said "the usefulness of these visits lies in the chance to freely communicate and express".
Tyutyunnyk added that he was impressed by the "very democratic system that governs Harvard." He said that the Ukrainian side includes teachers "so they can encounter a different method of preparing specialists."
The Ukrainians are expected to make their own contributions, in the form of presentations on Ukrainian national security challenges.
Huntington said last year's "Ukrainian delegation was noteworthy for its intellectual sophistication, its seriousness, its energy and its engagement in the enterprise".
The program is funded by the Smith Richardson Foundation, the U.S Department of Defense and British defense institutions. This year, the participants will also visit NATO Headquarters in Belgium, the Pentagon, the British Ministry of Defense and the Western European Union in Paris.