Foreign Policy Research Institute

+38 (044) 287 52 58

Foreign Policy Research Institute

tel. +38 (044) 287 52 58

INTERNATIONAL WEEKLY № 16 (18.10.2017 — 31.10.2017)

Hungary, with its linguistic claims, can not stand in the way of Ukraine's aspiration to become a NATO member

The issue of language for Ukraine was and still remains a matter of national security. Recently, it was reported that Hungary vetoed a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission on December 6, 2017. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Hungary Peter Siyarto stated this, the press service of the Hungarian government reports. In particular, Siyarto noted that Hungary at the beginning of September was for an active European integration of Ukraine, but after the adoption of the Ukrainian Law ‘On Education’, it felt as if it ‘received a blow to the back’. In his opinion, the behavior of Ukraine does not deserve the support of the Hungarian side. The Hungarian Minister added that the Budapest veto can not be bypassed, because the unanimous decision of the Allies is necessary for the convening of the NATO-Ukraine commission [1].

The day before, Vadym Prystayko, the Head of the Mission of Ukraine to NATO, said: ‘There is one particular ally whose behavior disturbs me. In particular, it is a statement by the Hungarian Foreign Minister about the intention to block Ukraine in the European Union. I did not hear from the Hungarian minister about NATO's position’, Prystayko has said. He added: ‘I hope our Hungarian colleagues understand that it is not entirely correct to raise bilateral issues on the level of such an important security organization as NATO’ [2].

However, as we see, Hungary did not delay with the position on NATO. Later, information appeared that NATO had no plans at all for the NATO-Ukraine Commission to be held in December. It's not a secret that the current Hungarian authorities, maybe not so open, but support the Kremlin. And in fact, all these language manipulations are already gaining an alarming  significance for Ukraine. Given the fact that Hungary brought the language issue on the NATO level for Ukraine it is important to maintain its own position on this issue.

As we have already noted, the level of cooperation between Ukraine and NATO in the modern realities of the war has come to a new level. As it known, Ukraine during 10 years implementing the Annual National Cooperation Programs with NATO. Despite the aggravation of the relations between Hungary and Ukraine, the Alliance, understands all the threats posed by Russia, provides political and technical support to our country. Today, we can confidently state once again that Ukraine has great chances to join the Alliance. As for the issue of Ukraine's readiness for NATO criteria, judging from the experience of the Baltic States, Hungary, Romania, this is not the main condition. These countries have become NATO members due to the political aspirations and will of their leaders.

Recently, the Head of the Mission of Ukraine to NATO Vadym Prystayko stated that Ukraine and NATO have already begun a dialogue on submission by the state of the application for joining the Alliance and the receipt of the Membership Action Plan (MAP) in this process. ‘There are different approaches in this process, in particular when to do it better. To apply when we will have results, for example in 2020, which we defined as the stage when Ukraine will meet NATO standards and will be able to demonstrate how far the state has progressed in many directions, first of all in the defense sector’, – the ambassador has said. ‘Since my first talk with the Secretary General of the Alliance, when I handed him a letter from the President of Ukraine, there was stated  our main political task is to acquire membership in NATO. But in order to achieve this, we must begin a dialogue, get the Membership Action Plan and fulfill it’-  Prystayko has said [3].

Recall, the MAP was also discussed at the meeting Poroshenko and Stoltenberg in July this year.Moscow said that Ukraine's joining the NATO Membership Action Plan would be a step towards further promotion of the Alliance to Russia's borders, which would not contribute to strengthening European security [4].

Meanwhile, the former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen believes that Ukraine does not needs the NATO Membership Action Plan, it only needs to meet the necessary criteria. ‘The MAP has never been a prerequisite for membership. We have many ways to gaining membership’, Rasmussen said. According to Rasmussen, the Ukraine-NATO Commission now plays the role of the MAP for Ukraine. ‘Instead of the MAP, we gave Ukraine a special commission – we have the Commission Ukraine-NATO, which works from the practical point of view, works the same as the MAP … The main question is when Ukraine can make the necessary reforms, including, for example, public control in the military sphere’, Rasmussen has said [5].

Summing up, it is worth to remind once again that Ukraine and NATO are important for each other, both geopolitically and ideologically. Ukraine has been deterring Russian armed aggression in front of NATO borders during for 4 years Proceeding from the fact that NATO has many ways of gaining membership, Ukraine needs to act in order to strengthen NATO's credibility and take advantage of these ways. However, as we have already noted, the ruling elite often compromises itself, and the last deal with the backpacks for the military is an illustrative example of that. Ukraine, in today's difficult circumstances, has a chance to become a member of NATO, what is lacking, that is genuine political will to do so.