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27 May, 2010 12:01

Ukraine: NATO membership is off the agenda

Joining NATO has been taken off Ukraine’s agenda, Foreign Minister Konstantin Grishchenko has announced. However, Kiev is going to continue developing relations with the alliance.

“The idea of Ukraine's membership in the alliance does not enjoy the support of the majority of Ukrainians and is destructive for the efficiency of the state's foreign policy,” Grishchenko said as quoted by Itar-Tass.

At the same time, he went on, Kiev will continue developing its relations with the alliance. “We jotted out from the agenda the question of membership in the alliance. Precisely this approach is in full compliance with the present state of affairs,” he said.

The minister noted, though, that Ukraine’s membership in international organizations is topical, since “it would give the country the best international experience and resources for its further development.”

On Wednesday, First Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) Stepan Havrysh said that “The issue of cooperation with the alliance continues to be one of the foreign policy priorities for our state.” He added, Interfax reports, that evidence of this is the intention of the new country’s leadership to abide by all of the agreements earlier reached with the alliance.

Speaking at the meeting of the NATO-Ukraine joint working group, Havrysh said, “Ukraine, while maintaining the dynamics of a political dialog with the alliance, is beginning to strengthen its strategic partnership with Russia.” He added that “the whole world expected a similar rebooting.”

“I think that [the reboot] will entail charisma in Ukrainian political diplomacy, as well as politics in future,” the official went on. He underlined, however, that a reset in relations does not mean a return to Moscow's influence in Kiev.

“We are focusing on the development of equal relations… The issue concerns a new level of strategic partnership with Russia,” he stressed.

Joining the US-led alliance was one of the key priorities for Ukraine’s former president – Viktor Yushchenko – and one of the stumbling blocks in Moscow-Kiev relations. Russia is strongly opposed to the alliance’s Eastward expansion. Ukraine’s new leader Viktor Yanukovich, who took office in February, dropped the plans and is pursuing a policy that would help Ukraine develop good relations with both Russia and the West.

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