NATO Expresses Support for Ukraine’s Entry Efforts

WARSAW, Poland -- NATO’s Secretary General has expressed support for Ukraine’s efforts to join the alliance. He refused however to give a specific date.

Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko (L) and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer (R)

Speaking in Warsaw after a meeting with Polish Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said “NATO supports Ukraine’s euroatlantic drive and will continue to do so. It is important that dialogue between Ukraine and NATO be intensive. We will continue to support the process and the road chosen by Ukrainians,” Poland’s PAP news agency reported. He added that he “cannot give an answer” for dates.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has made membership in NATO and the European Union a strategic goal of his country. But Russia has expressed concern about the expansion of NATO to include the former Soviet republic.

Earlier this month, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said that NATO’s expansion to include former Soviet republics was “not a pleasant thing” to Russia. He said that for Russia, the accession of Ukraine to this alliance is “especially sensitive” because of shared historical and cultural values, the unity of interests and numerous family ties give a special character to relations between the two peoples.

In January, Scheffer mentioned Ukraine among the countries that might join the alliance in 2008. However, he said, Ukraine’s success in achieving the goal of joining NATO will depend on the success of Ukrainian reforms. Scheffer said the entry terms were connected with practical achievements and not the terms of the NATO summit in 2008.

Source: MosNews