Upcoming Events 2020
US-UA Security Dialogue XI
Washington, DC
March 5, 2020 
New York City
April 30, 2020
US-UA WG Yearly Summit VIII
New York City [Webcasting]
June 17-18, 2020

US-UA Energy Dialogue SE
Washington DC [Webcasting]
June 29, 2020 
UA HES Special Event:
Ukrainians in 1945/75th 
Year Retrospective 
Ukrainian Institute of America
September 26, 2020 
Washington, DC
October 22, 2020
PL-LT-UA Relations
Chicago, IL 
November 14, 2020 


CUSUR 2016 - Project I
US-UA “Working Group” Initiative

The US-Ukraine “Working Group” Initiative was launched in 2007 in order to secure an array of experts in "areas of interest” for CUSUR and its various forums/proceedings; at the same time, it was hoped that the ‘experts’ might agree to write a series of ‘occasional papers’ to identify “major issues” impacting on US-Ukrainian relations.
CUSUR 2017 - Project II
Publication Efforts

Recognizing the urgent need to set up proper channels for the maximum circulation of the information/analysis CUSUR possessed or had at its disposal, the Center long focused on having ‘a publication presence’ of some form or another.
CUSUR 2019 - Project III
DC Occasional Briefings Series

CUSUR did not turn its attention to having a DC presence until summer 2012. Borrowing space when the need arose (particularly for various forum steering committees meetings) from the American Foreign Policy Council, its longest abiding partner, seemed to suffice; an Acela ride from the Center’s NY office did the rest. If there was a concern, it was to open an office in Kyiv.
Visegrad Perspective on the UA NATO Accession Process

Ukraine's Quest for Mature Nation Statehood Roundtable VII:
"Ukraine and NATO Membership"

Ukraine’s NATO Accession Process – The Visegrad Perspective

Rostyslav Kacer

Focus session presentation by Rostyslav Kacer, Ambassador of the Slovak Republic to the United States, delivered during Ukraine's Quest for Mature Nation Statehood Roundtable VII: "Ukraine and NATO Membership" Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, Washington DC, October 17, 2006.

Moderator—Walter Zaryckyj: Rostyslav Kacer is Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary of the Slovak Republic to the United States of America. Mr. Kacer arrived in Washington DC from his post as State Secretary, or more precisely, Deputy Minister of Defense, of the Slovak Republic, which he held from February 2001. Before that, he was the Director General of the Division of International Organizations and Security Policy at the Slovak Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Ambassador Kacer’s main task at the Ministry of Defense was Slovakia’s accession process to NATO, which was successfully concluded after Slovakia’s invitation to join the Alliance at the Prague summit in the fall of 2003. His work at the Foreign Affairs Ministry dates from 1992 and between 1994 and 1998, he was posted at the Slovak Mission to NATO in Brussels. We know that he is eminently qualified to talk about issues of NATO as well as matters of Eastern Europe and NATO and we will ask him to comment about the issues of Ukraine and NATO. I ask him to the podium.

Rostyslav Kacer: Thank you for a very kind introduction. Ladies and Gentlemen, good afternoon. I don’t know how to manage my presentation, after the excellent exchange we heard just before, following lunch, in this huge room—how to make my words exciting for you so that you do not get bored and stay interested. I don’t know what kind of performance you can expect from me. I have a very difficult task set for me—to challenge the quality of the discussion which preceded me.

Let me make a couple of very practical remarks, because I don’t think that I am any sort of special intellectual; I’m a practical man. I’m a practitioner. I call myself a NATO practitioner. For ten years, I was with NATO, almost married to it, I once said to my wife, 7 days a week 24 hours a day. The Slovak presentation document for Partnership for Peace was born on my computer and, at the end, I was with my prime minister handing him the documents of NATO accession of Slovakia in Washington DC in 2003. During those ten years, and I would not be stretching by saying that these were 10 long years, I was with “Slovakia in NATO” almost every day. Was it an easy life? No, it was not. Was it frustration free? No, it was not frustration free. Did we face difficulty and many challenges? Yes, we did. Is it over? No, it is not. NATO is not something which is like the 10 Commandments, given by God to us 2,000 years ago and today it is the same. NATO is a running train; NATO is a beast that is a process. If it is anything, NATO is a concept….a concept of evolution, which it has been since it was born and remains so today. And actually, this concept is one of the most successful notions of 20th century and 21st century modern Europe. Because NATO is open and because it is changing, that is part of its success. Because we are discussing Ukraine membership, it is a success—that is, it is still an attractive concept to many of us.

In all of this, what’s the good news?? — And what’s the bad news?? What are challenges?? And what is good in this for Ukraine?? What is bad in this for Ukraine?? I have asked to speak to the issue: Why the “NATO concept”….I think, from my view, or as the organizers call it, from the Visegrad view — I do not any special powers vested by Visegrad, but from my Visegrad vantage point….why the NATO concept is good for Ukraine? The answer is actually in the title of your seventh Roundtable: Mature Nation Statehood. It is as simple as that.

On the issue whether Ukraine should be or not to be a part of NATO, that’s a question for Ukrainians to reply. But, let me state what’s the concept of NATO is and let me ask you whether you think that idea is good for you.

The concept is very simple, though, in practical life and particularly in political life, we find that the simple things are often the most difficult things to get done. And the simple thing is that NATO is a relationship; it’s a very unique relationship embodied in a political concept accepted by, at present, twenty five—excuse me—twenty six, nations. Europe is twenty five; NATO is twenty six; I always get a bit confused. These are twenty six nations, who first of all, trust each other, who work with each other, who believe in the same values and shared principles.

Let me shortly list those shared values and those shared principles. Again, these are very simple. And again, very simple things are often the most difficult to do in life. The most basic principles are: Do we have a democracy and freely elected people in office? Do we have a right distribution of powers in the society? Do we have press, where the will of people, driven by the vision of politicians, gets a hearing? Do we think that the economy is free and competitive driven? Do we think that we are ready to share our security with the security systems of our friends? Etcetera; Etc. These are very simple principles on which we work together. If you think that your response for Ukraine is that: “Yes, our values, Ukrainian values, embrace a statehood based on the democratic and free principles, on a good performing economy, on an ability to share, in good and bad times, what we have with our friends, who share the same values”, then my response to you is: “NATO is a good concept for you”.

NATO may be a good concept for you, but the choice must be yours. The good and the bad news here is that you have many friends here, not only Slovakia—in general I think you got all twenty six members on your side, but nobody on NATO’s side will seduce you, or, more bluntly, “rape you”, from love. Love is a relationship; NATO, again, is a relationship. There is no entitlement for the relationship. Nobody deserves more or deserves less. You must be ready, you must be mature and it must be your choice only. This reality is the bad news, namely, that nobody from NATO and nobody from any NATO country—not from the United States nor from Slovakia nor from anybody—will be coming to you to Kyiv and pleading: “Please, will you join? Please, will you make up your mind?” People will be coming and saying: “Yes, if you think you are part of this political concept— and we want you to be and we are passionate for you, then we are ready to help you”. But nobody will ever “rape you from love” on NATO side. This was, for some time, a frustration on my side, because Slovakia was going thru the same phase, where we thought that it geopolitically so important that Slovakia be “embraced” because it was an important piece of territory right in the middle of Europe and there was some sort of entitlement for NATO invitation. It is not true and it is not going to be true even for Ukraine, though it may geopolitically sexier than Slovakia and whoever else lives in Europe. The reality is that nobody will ever force you into NATO.

From another angle, and it was spoken about here on the panel before and I therefore remembered such a situation myself, coming to Russia to consult on NATO before our accession, because, as we went to consult to Brussels and every individual capital we also went up to Moscow, I was by a met couple of colleagues at the Foreign and Defense Ministry and I recall hearing from them that: “When you join NATO, you will be on the list of our enemies”. I was always stunned by the statement. And my response to this kind of statement was always very simple: “I can assure you gentlemen —there was no ladies in the discussion ever— I assure you gentlemen, that, when we join NATO, you are not going to be on our enemy list, and you are not going to be on the NATO enemy list; that is for sure”. Please note that you will be confronted by this other side. Also kindly note that the pressures won’t be equal and the choice will again be yours.

A bit of practical advice at the end, before we get into some inter action, questions and remarks. I mentioned that I am practitioner, and some of you might be interested in some more practical advice.

My first advice here would be “Don’t take for any granted any geopolitical criteria.” That period is over. The Cold War has been over for a long time and NATO is no longer an instrument of the Cold War. NATO is not against Russia. NATO, even from the technical side or from a ‘modern warfare perspective’, places less and less value in what we always tend to see as an extremely important value in a territory and geo-political or geo- strategic position. Don’t count on all of that now; don’t take it seriously. It has got no, or very little, value; that is, there is no entitlement.

Second, there is huge responsibility out there and that responsibility rests on all of those among you — Ukrainians — who are progressively thinking and who are courageous people with vision. We are running now into a sort of strange phase of politics; I don’t mean that this is something specific for Ukraine and I am not that knowledgeable about Ukraine’s internal politics. This is a reflection of politics in general in Europe, not only in Slovakia or the Visegrad countries but more generally in Europe. Politics is becoming less and less visionary and more and more public opinion poll-driven and therein exists some bad news… actually.

Why? Because when you ask people what they think, as it was mentioned in the discussion I heard earlier, they think basically what they learned or experienced throughout their whole life. You cannot expect a simple people in the village or in the country side to have any particular vision, in as much as they don’t have an education and they haven’t been exposed to many things. They haven’t; they just don’t know. It is not being stupid; it is simply not having a possibility to reflect on matters. It is essentially about not having real opportunities, like all those that you who travel, who read a lot, who listen to a lot, who go for conferences like this present one, who have a lot of interaction, possess. It is in your hands to shape the vision and to put the pressure on the politicians to be more visionary. The “People” won’t do that. By that I mean, a good ninety percent of people of a particular country won’t do that. The process is often in the hands of less than ten percent — of those who are intellectuals, those who are academicians, those who are good journalist and those who work for the third sector. It is in your hands and, sometimes, a small group of people with big dedication as well as good vision can push politics and push all of society in a very good direction. If eighty percent of people think that Ukraine shouldn’t join NATO, it doesn’t mean that it is a right decision. You just have to be courageous and you have to be —what’s the right term in English— “tough or tough minded” enough to proceed with this vision and to fight your frustrations en route.

My third advice would be take advantage of the process of approaching NATO and process of integration within NATO. I speak for myself. When [inaudible] was introduced in 1990/1991, all of us looked at that as something which was bad; it was just delaying our early accession to NATO. Then Partnership for Peace was introduced with a huge practical dimension of military and civil military programs and again we were frustrated. That also is just delaying our membership of NATO.

Now I can tell you, reflecting on my hindsight: All of those processes, including Membership Action Plan at the end, or what goes before the institution, Intensified Dialogue—all of them— have value in their own right and please don’t underestimate the value. In the process as you approach NATO and as you fight for NATO membership you actually get access to things, which you, when you are member of NATO, won’t have any more. So, profit from that while you are involved in the process. Send as much military as you can to any program you can. Send as many politicians, and I mean members of parliament as well, for as many conferences as you can, indeed, for exchanges just like this one. Travel to every individual member state, to many member states that have got their own individual programs for countries like Ukraine and also to others who inspire NATO membership. Take every chance because this process is a self educational process and a great learning tool.

Now the last piece of advice: “Be patient; it’s not easy. It’s not easy, not because of sometimes you feel like a lack of response from other NATO partners, but because you are changing your country and maturing— reaching out for Mature Nation Statehood.” It’s like maturing during your teens; it is sometimes a painful process for your parents and for yourself. In other words, maturation is sometimes a shaky and bumpy road; it is to be expected.

I probably have a million other things to tell you, since this was my life, from which I have taken a break during the last three years —I feel very passionate about it and I may be biased toward NATO, so take it with some reservation— but for now, I think that would be just about what I would want to say in my introductory presentation. I will be more than keen to take any questions. And if any of you would like to come to see me separately later on at any point, you are always welcome to do so.

Thank you


Past Highlight Events

RT XVII Items of Note
Highlights from Ukraine's Quest for Mature Nation Statehood RT XVII: Ukraine & Religious Freedom, held in Washington, DC on Oct. 27, 2016
UA HES SE: UA 25th B-Day
Highlights from UA HES Special Event: 'Commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the Modern Ukrainian State', held at the NY Princeton Club on Sept. 17, 2016
US-UA WG YS IV Highlights
Highlights from US-UA WG Yearly Summit IV: Providing Ukraine with an Annual Report Card, held at the University Club in Washington, DC on June 16, 2016
US-UA SD VII Items of Note
Highlights from US-Ukraine Security Dialogue VII held on February 25, 2016 in Washington DC
UA HES SE: WW2 Legacy
Highlights from the UA Historical Encounters Special Event: 'Contested Ground': The Legacy of WW2 in Eastern Europe, held in Edmonton on October 23-24, 2015
Holodomor SE Highlights
Highlights from the UA Historical Encounters Special Event: Taking Measure of the Holodomor, held at the Princeton Club of NY on November 5-6, 2013
US-UA SD III Items of Note
Highlights from US-Ukraine Security Dialogue III held on May 19, 2012 in Chicago, IL

  • Former UA Foreign Minister Volodymyr Ohryzko's keynote
UEAF Forum VI Highlights
Highlights from UEAF Forum VI, held in Ottawa, Canada on March 7-8, 2012
RT XII Items of Note
Highlights from Ukraine's Quest for Mature Nation Statehood RT XII: PL-UA & TR-UA, held in Washington, DC on Oct 19–20, 2011
US-UA ED III Items of Note
Highlights from US-Ukraine Energy Dialogue III, held in Washington DC
on April 15-16, 2008
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