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29 Nov, 2008 00:14

Medvedev welcomes "common sense decision" on Georgia & Ukraine

Dmitry Medvedev has welcomed a decision by the U.S. not to push for Georgia and Ukraine`s entry into NATO using the alliance`s so-called membership action plan (MAP). The Russian President said he was “glad” that “common sense prevailed&

Speaking in Cuba on the final leg of his South American tour, Medvedev said he didn’t know how Washington had cometo this conclusion, but said he was relieved wisdom had won the day at least at the end of this administration’s term.

“Whether they finally listened to Europe or someone else, the main thing is that this idea will not be pushed forward with such frenzy and futility as it was a short time ago,” Medvedev said.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, admitted that Georgia and Ukraine are not ready to become NATO members. She said Washington would not insist on granting NATO membership to Georgia and Ukraine at the alliance's ministerial meeting in Brussels next week. 

However, she said that MAP is not the only way to get into NATO, pointing out that neither Poland nor the Czech Republic were part of the plan.

Rice also said that the idea of admitting Ukraine and Georgia to NATO, by-passing existing procedures, had come from Britain and not from the U.S.

The aim of the British initiative, she said, was to consider other ways of fulfilling the Bucharest Declaration, which said that Georgia and Ukraine would eventually join NATO.

The U.S. Secretary of State believes NATO's dialogue with Kiev and Tbilisi could be stepped up through corresponding bilateral commissions.

But according to John Laughland from the Institute for Democracy and Cooperation, there isn’t any chance now that Georgia or Ukraine will join NATO.

“All talk of postponement and new formulas and so on is merely a face-saving operation to hide that basic fact,” he said.

Russia strongly opposes the eastward expansion of NATO, saying it violates previous agreements and would inevitably lead to an imbalance of power in the region.
NATO set up the alliance membership action plan programme in 1999 in order to support prospective members of the alliance while they carry out the economic, legal, military and political reforms needed to join.

The latest NATO expansion saw Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania come on board in 2004.

The opposition of Germany and France to offering MAP status to Ukraine and Georgia is thought to have influenced the United States's decision.