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NATO/Ukraine: New Accord Begins 'Special Partnership'

Madrid, 9 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - NATO leaders and Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma have signed a charter in Madrid setting out a "special partnership" between the alliance and the former Soviet republic. The charter, a five-page document, calls for consultation and co-operation between NATO and Ukraine. It is similar to the one signed between the alliance and Russia in May.

The cooperation between Ukraine and NATO will include regular political meetings, as well as military activities conducted through the Partnership for Peace program.

Kuchma, speaking at the signing ceremony, said Ukraine now has a chance to take an active role with its partners in the construction of a secure future for Europe and the whole world. He said he was very happy with the accord and also said the European security will be enhanced by the enlargement of NATO to take in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic as announced yesterday.

NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said a new era is beginning in relations between NATO and Ukraine. He called the charter a visible symbol of a new Europe, no longer divided between East and West, but where East and West are partners.

U.S. President Bill Clinton welcomed the charter, and said it will help to secure Ukraine in a new and undivided Europe.

Ukrainian politicians remain divided over the country's relationship with NATO, and Ukraine has not made any moves to apply for membership in the alliance. Solana, asked yesterday by a Ukrainian reporter when Ukraine might become a NATO member, replied that a precondition is for a country to want to join.