|Vilnius, 30 May 2014,
The NATO Parliamentary Assembly on Friday expressed strong support for the Ukrainian people’s struggle to defend their national independence and denounced Russian action to destabilize the country with acts of “clear and undeniable” aggression.
Lawmakers from NATO nations also voted to confirm the withdrawal of the Russian parliament’s associate membership of the Assembly.
“Our trust in partnership has been betrayed,” said Hugh Bayley, president of the NATO PA.
“We cannot continue business as usual with parliamentarians from a NATO partner country, Russia, when they vote to use military force against another NATO partner, Ukraine.”
Meeting in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius for its annual Spring Session, the NATO Assembly adopted a declaration urging Alliance governments to apply firmer sanctions against relevant Russian officials and entities. It appealed for increased support to Ukraine and its efforts to build a strong democratic state.
Addressing the opening plenary session, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Russian actions in Ukraine had provided “an unwelcome, but unambiguous explanation” of why the Alliance needs to maintain strong defences and reverse a long decline in military spending.
He insisted NATO was committed and able to protect all of its members from any threat.
“We are prepared to do what is necessary, for as long as necessary,” Fogh Rasmussen said. “We are determined to protect every part of the Alliance. So NATO stands strong. And no Ally stands alone.”
The plenary session adopted a declaration calling on NATO governments to maintain an “open door” policy for nations seeking to join the Alliance. It also stressed the need to strengthen the transatlantic partnership that binds North American and European allies together.
Afghanistan’s future, the conflict in Syria, and preparations for the Alliance’s Wales Summit in September are among other issues the 360 legislators from alliance, partner and guest delegations will debate over the three-day session.
Ukraine however topped the agenda Friday. The Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council Andriy Parubiy appealed for a united front to force Russia to halt the aggression against his country. If not, he warned, it would threaten security “not just in Europe, but in the whole civilized world.”The need for a strong response was echoed by Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevièius. “The Russian instigated turmoil in Ukraine has undermined security and stability in Europe,” he told the Assembly. “These new threats and challenges need to be addressed by strategic thinking, smart planning and strong response.”