"Integrating Ukraine into Euro-Atlantic Structures: Regional Strategic Challenges Ahead"


On 14 December 2005, a seminar "Integrating Ukraine into Euro-Atlantic Structures Strategic Challenges Ahead" was organized at the Baltic Defence College. The seminar aimed to stimulate discussions on the issue of integration of Ukraine into the Euro-Atlantic Community and to contribute to the development of deeper knowledge in this domain among the students and directing staff members. Among the speakers of the conference were HE Ms Ginte Damusis, a former Ambassador of Lithuania to NATO, Mr Bruce Rogers, Deputy Political Advisor at the US Mission to NATO, academics and civil servants from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine


Ms Margarita Seselgyte, International Studies Chair of the Baltic Defence College, has introduced the rationale and main goals of the seminar. She has emphasized the strategic importance of Ukraine for the stability and security in the region, noting that future developments in Ukraine will also be sending a certain signal to other post-communist countries. Ms Margarita Seselgyte related the significance of the developments in Ukraine for the Euro-Atlantic community to one of the goals of the BALTDEFCOL – to react to the most recent development in the strategic environment.  She has also formulated two main goals of the seminar: 1) to stimulate a discussion on the most recent topics in international affairs and 2) to deepen the knowledge of the students and the members of directing staff of the BALTDEFCOL in the democratization and integration of Ukraine into Euro-Atlantic structures. The seminar was opened by the Commandant Brigadier General Algis Vaiceliunas who emphasized the necessity for the educational institutions to be innovative and keep up with the latest developments in the international environment. Speaking about the changing strategic environment, the Commandant stressed an increasing role of Ukraine in world affairs.  Integration of Ukraine into the Euro-Atlantic structures, according to him, should be one of the most important goals of democratic international community. The Commandant has mentioned that the BALTDEFCOL, understanding this goal, could take more responsibilities in bringing Ukraine closer to NATO by educating more Ukrainian students. According to him, especially beneficial in this regard would be the Higher Command Studies Course of the BALTDEFCOL, which carries the title "Leadership in transformation". The first session Major strategic challenges ahead concentrated on three main issues: 1) why integration of Ukraine into the Euro-Atlantic community is of crucial importance for both Ukraine and the Euro-Atlantic community; 2) what are the major steps that Ukraine has to undertake seeking to become a credible member of this community and 3) what are the main strategic challenges that both Ukraine and the Euro-Atlantic Community are facing trying to achieve those goals and how they could be overcome.


The first speaker of the first session HE Ambassador Ginte Damusis from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania once more emphasized the strategic significance of Ukraine for NATO and tried to broaden the discussion, proposing not to concentrate only on the integration but also to consider transformation of Ukraine. According to Ms Ginte Damusis, these two should go hand in hand. The Ambassador has also, in an elaborate way, introduced to the audience the main strategic challenges that Ukraine and the Euro-Atlantic community face in this respect. The second speaker, Ms Beata Gorka Winter, the analyst from Polish Institute of International Affairs in Warsaw, presented an overview of NATO – Ukraine cooperation, identifying the main obstacles and possible ways to overcome them. One of the main arguments of her presentation was that membership of Ukraine will not be possible without reform in the military sector and transformation of the society. The last speaker of the first session, Dr. Olena Prystayko, a researcher from Center for Peace, Conversion and Foreign Policy, Kiev, devoted her speech to Ukraine – EU cooperation. She presented a detailed and rather critical coverage of the issue. Although she admitted that one of the most crucial issues in the Ukrainian integration into the EU is transformation of Ukrainian society and this should be first of all the responsibility of Ukrainians, however a clear and tangible support from the EU is also of the utmost importance.  Panel discussions of the first session were moderated by Mr. Jeff Goldstein, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of the US in Tallinn, who drew attention in his lead-in remarks to the persisting Cold War image of NATO in the Ukrainian society, despite tremendous changes of the Alliance during the last decade. The second session Problems and opportunities for practical cooperationwas devoted to more practical issues related to the integration of Ukraine into the Euro-Atlantic community, what the main challenges are and how member states of NATO and the EU or NATO and the EU as organizations can help Ukraine to overcome those challenges.


The first speaker, Dr. Viktor Korendovich, Head of the Section of Prognosis and Expertise at the Department of Military Policy and Strategic Planning, Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, was speaking about the goals of the Ukrainian Armed Forces trying to comply with the NATO membership criteria. He said that currently the main challenges are, first of all, transformation of territorial-defence armed forces into the deployable force which could be sent for international missions and, secondly, professionalisation of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The second speaker of the second session, Mr. Bruce Rogers, Deputy Political Advisor at the US Mission to NATO, was focusing in his presentation on the problems and opportunities of practical co-operation between Ukraine and NATO from the US perspective. He emphasized the significance of cooperation between NATO and Ukraine, which helps to solidify the processes of democratization and reforms in the defence sector in Ukraine. Therefore, according to Mr. Bruce Rogers, it is of the utmost importance that the Alliance keeps engaged in Ukraine. The third speaker, Ms Merle Maigre, Deputy NATO Liaison Officer in Ukraine, in her presentation was sharing with the audience her "in field" experience. She was convinced that a lot in the process of Ukrainian integration to NATO depends on the Ukrainians themselves. She very positively assessed the critical mass of the overall defence sector reforms in Ukraine and noted that it is no longer possible to turn them back. The last speaker of the session, Mr James Joseph Grybowsky II, Advisor to the Minister, Ministry of National Defence Lithuania, elaborated on the practical challenges of Ukrainian integration into NATO. His main argument was that, on top of all the things related to the defence sector reform, Ukraine has to develop a very clear set of good priorities – achievable and implementable. The moderator of the second panel was Mr. Sven Sakkov, Director of Defence Policy Planning Department, Ministry of Defence of Defence, who also shared many of his insights related to Estonia\'s progress towards NATO membership and relevance of Estonia\'s experience to Ukraine. The Concluding remarks were made by Ms Margarita Seselgyte, who summed up the main ideas of the conference and noted that the discussion on the Integration of the Ukraine into Euro-Atlantic structures was not new and there were many things that were constantly debated in the news, various conferences, at the political level. Recently and during this conference she has noticed some new trends, maybe not very unique, but definitely those representing new thinking in the debate on the Ukrainian integration into the Euro-Atlantic security structures. One of those new trends was change of the focus in this debate. Many speakers mentioned the transformation of the Ukrainian society, values and attitudes towards NATO and Euro-Atlantic Community in general, instead of focusing on rather narrow goals of integration related to the defence sector reforms, resources and political will. Ms Margarita Seselgyte admitted that the aims of the seminar were achieved and thanked all the speakers, panelists and other participants of the conference for the interesting presentations, challenging questions and thought-provoking comments.


Email again:


Graduation of the Higher Command Studies Course


The 1st Curriculum Co-ordination Group meeting

Share this article