Ukrainian Defense Minister Andriy Zahorodniuk has said that Ukraine meets the criteria for joining NATO's Enhanced Opportunity Partnership (EOP) and called on the Alliance to consider Ukraine's application for participation in the program.
He said this during a breakfast hosted by the Canadian defense minister with the participation of the NATO secretary general in Brussels on Thursday, February 13, the press service of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry reported.
"Our NATO partners know that joining NATO's Enhanced Opportunity Partnership program is an absolute priority for Ukraine. Ukraine has made significant progress in implementing the Alliance's standards and is already meeting the military criteria for joining the program. We are ready [to join], and now there is a wonderful window of opportunity," the ministry's press service quoted Zahorodniuk as saying.
He also emphasized that Ukraine's accession to the EOP program is a key element in enhancing European security and deepening cooperation and partnership. In addition, Zahorodniuk said that Ukraine has something to offer NATO. In particular, the minister pointed to the ongoing participation of Ukrainian military in NATO-led operations, the exchange of experience gained during the fight against Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine, including the hybrid component, intelligence sharing, and ensuring security in the Black Sea.
Zahorodniuk called on NATO partners to consider Ukraine's application for joining the EOP program and support the decision.
In January 2020, Ukraine asked NATO to grant it the status of a participant in the Enhanced Opportunity Partnership program.
Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Dmytro Kuleba said that as part of such a partnership, Ukraine could receive priority admission to certification of NATO-Ukraine events. In addition, the program envisages enhanced cooperation in the sphere of intelligence and enabling representatives of partner countries to receive positions at NATO headquarters or agencies.
According to Kuleba, the Enhanced Opportunity Partnership program does not substitute a Membership Action Plan (MAP), which Ukraine seeks to obtain.