NATO and Ukraine condemn Russia’s activities
Sevil Erkuş BRUSSELS
NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg speaks at the Alliance's headquarters ahead of NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels, Dec. 2. REUTERS PhotoNATO countries and Ukraine strongly condemned on Dec. 2 a Russian military build-up in Crimea, accusing Russia of “deliberate destabilization” of eastern Ukraine.
“We condemn Russia’s military build-up in Crimea, as well as the worsening human rights situation on the Crimean peninsula. We call on Russia to reverse its illegal and illegitimate self-declared ‘annexation’ of Crimea, which we do not and will not recognize,” the ministers said in a statement after a meeting in Brussels.
“We are also concerned about Russia’s stated plans for further military build-up on the Black Sea,” they added.
NATO foreign ministers also condemned Russia’s “continued and deliberate destabilization of eastern Ukraine in breach of international law, including the provision of tanks, advanced air defense systems and other heavy weapons to the separatists.”
The ministers gathered for a meeting of NATO-Ukraine Commission to discuss the priorities of the new Ukrainian government and to show the Alliance’s continued firm and strong support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.
NATO Foreign Ministers were expected to announce on Dec. 2 the launch of a new advisory mission for Afghanistan and continuous NATO presence in Eastern Europe, with events in Afghanistan and Ukraine dominating the agenda.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance would assess whether Ukraine fulfills the necessary standards if the country applies for membership.
“We are still committed to an open door policy,” Stoltenberg added.
The ministers will announce progress in trust funds to support Ukraine, with the aim of helping build capacity in areas such as command, control, communications, cyber defense and medical rehabilitation.
Stoltenberg earlier said he expected four outcomes from the meeting: an agreement on boosting forces in the east to counter a rising Russia; a deal on an interim NATO quick reaction force; more support for Ukraine; and a deal on a support mission in Afghanistan.
Accustomed to long-term threats, members of the alliance agreed at a September summit to launch a “spearhead” force of around 4,000 troops by 2016 in response to new challenges of hybrid warfare and political upheaval.
The force, initially led by Germany, the Netherlands and Norway, will pave the way for a Readiness Action Plan and aims to have a small number of troops respond to security challenges within days.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah are also joining the talks to prepare for NATO’s transition from a combat to a training role in Afghanistan by 2015.
The ministers are expected to formally launch the Resolute Support Training and Advice Mission, which will kick off on Jan. 1, 2015, and leave security responsibility to Afghan forces.
Turkish FM asks Bulgaria resume Turkish news bulletins
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu had bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Germany, Italy, Bulgaria and the Netherlands on the sidelines of the gathering. Çavuşoğlu urged Bulgarian Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov to resume Turkish news bulletins on Bulgarian television stations, diplomatic sources told the Hürriyet Daily News. He also reportedly proposed to hold high level cooperation meeting in the near term.