Ukraine Still To Fix NATO Joining Date: Defense Minister

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian Defense Minister Anatoly Gritsenko said on Saturday that his country was yet to set a date for joining NATO, Ukraine's Interfax news agency reported.

Anatoly Gritsenko

Gritsenko told a news conference that at present, no one could answer the question about when his country would join the military alliance.

He said Ukraine's bid for NATO membership was a question for both sides. For Ukraine's part, it needed to make preparations in military, economic and political fields. As for NATO, it needed to prepare to accept Ukraine's membership.

When asked whether or not Ukraine's new government would possibly change its principle of entering NATO, Gritsenko said Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko had made an announcement that his country's foreign and military policies would remain unchanged.

During informal negotiations with foreign ministers of NATO members in April, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Boris Tarasyuk said Ukraine hoped to be formally invited to become a NATO member in 2008.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych told reporters on Aug. 10 that Ukraine would hold a referendum to decide once and for all whether to join NATO or not.

Source: Xinhua