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Draft NATO summit declaration attaches conditions to Ukraine’s invitation to Alliance – media (UPDATED)

NATO summit vilnius
Meeting of the North Atlantic Council at the level of Heads of State and Government, with Sweden, 11 July 2023. Credit: Flickr/NATO
Draft NATO summit declaration attaches conditions to Ukraine’s invitation to Alliance – media (UPDATED)

A draft of the NATO summit declaration seen by Spiegel affirms that “Ukraine’s future is in Nato,” in line with a promise made at a summit in Bucharest in 2008. However, no timetable is given for accession, and Ukraine can only be invited to join if the existing members agree that the conditions for this have been met.

Specifically, the draft mentions that reforms in the areas of democracy and interoperability with NATO are still necessary for Ukraine’s way to membership. NATO foreign ministers should regularly review progress, and only then a decision for an invitation could be made.

“We are ready to extend an invitation to Ukraine if all Allies agree that the conditions are met,” is the final sentence of the crucial paragraph of the document, which is still discussed and could be changed during the summit.

Alliance members had not agreed on the text for a final declaration ahead of the summit, and debates continued on the first day of the meeting in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, on 11 July.

Source of Interfax Ukraine told the media that the Allies have agreed to cancel the Membership Action Plan as a condition of accession, thus easing Ukraine’s path to NATO. This wording could be stated as follows: “Ukraine’s path to full Euro-Atlantic integration has gone beyond the need for a Membership Action Plan.” This agreement was reported by Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on the eve of the summit.

Zelenskyy slams vague assurances of NATO membership

Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy has slammed this formulation. “It is unprecedented and absurd to not have a timeframe for both the invitation (!) and Ukraine’s membership, and when some strange formulations are added about ‘conditions’ even for inviting Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said before arriving in Vilnius on the evening of 11 July.

“It looks like there is no readiness to invite Ukraine to NATO or to make it a member. This means that there is still an opportunity to bargain for Ukraine’s membership in NATO in negotiations with Russia. And for Russia, this gives the motivation to continue its terror. Uncertainty is weakness. And I will discuss this frankly at the summit,” Zelenskyy said.

Today, Zelenskyy’s participation in the NATO summit in Vilnius was finally confirmed after weeks of uncertainty; the Ukrainian leader earlier said he would not attend if NATO leaders would not offer Ukraine a clear path towards NATO membership.

Kyiv hopes to secure an invitation to the alliance for Ukraine in Vilnius, along with security guarantees from NATO Allies. Kyiv acknowledges that Ukraine’s immediate membership is impossible while the war with Russia is still ongoing, but it hopes to secure a political decision that will move forward from the current status quo, expressed at the Bucharest summit in 2008, “NATO’s doors are open for Ukraine.”

End of “partnership era”: what Ukraine wants from the NATO summit in Vilnius

UPDATE, 20:00: Debates are over; the final communique has been agreed. The paragraph that was debated is unchanged, according to a Euromaidan Press source. It simplifies Ukraine’s path to NATO by removing the need for a Membership Action Plan. However, it states that NATO will not extend an invitation to Ukraine at this summit.

“In line with the 1997 Charter on a Distinctive Partnership between NATO and Ukraine and the 2009 Complement, Allies will continue to support and review Ukraine’s progress on interoperability as well as additional democratic and security sector reforms that are required. NATO Foreign Ministers will regularly assess progress through the adapted Annual National Programme. The Alliance will support Ukraine in making these reforms on its path towards future membership. We will be in a position to extend an invitation to Ukraine to join the Alliance when Allies agree and conditions are met,” the debated paragraph says.

According to Ukrainian lawmaker Oleksiy Honcharenko, the participants of the discussions quarreled, but “unfortunately, it was not possible to change anything, because a conflict is a conflict.”

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