NATO Chief Reiterates Support For Ukraine's Accession Bid

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) supported Ukraine's accession bid, said the military bloc's Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop schaffer on Thursday.

NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop schaffer

He expressed the organization's support during the fifth round of Informal High-Level NATO-Ukraine Consultations, saying the bloc's link with Ukraine was still high on NATO's agenda.

He pledged NATO's support for Ukraine's reform of defense and security, but said that the speed of the process would be up to the Ukrainian government.

The talks, hosted by Scheffer and attended by defense ministers from Ukraine and some NATO members, were held in Sintra, a town 20 km west from the Portuguese capital.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Anatoly Hrytsenko reiterated his country's NATO membership bid, saying it was a strategic and unchangeable decision having undergone long consideration.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Boris Tarasiuk had said in April that Ukraine wished to receive the official invitation for its accession into NATO in 2008.

But Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, who was in conflict with President Viktor Yushchenko over the issue, had earlier told NATO officials in Brussels that Ukraine was not ready for fast-track membership because of low public support and whether it would join NATO would be decided by a referendum.

Source: Xinhua