Uploaded on Jun 17, 2008
NATO chief seeks to soothe Russia, Ukraine over potential membership
Source: CCTV.com | 06-17-2008 08:46
The NATO chief is trying to allay Russia's concerns about Ukraine's possible entry into the alliance. He says the idea that NATO wants bases on Ukrainian soil is a myth. NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has held talks with Ukraine's top leaders over the former Soviet republic's desire to join the alliance.
At a joint news conference in Kiev, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko tried to play down the idea of NATO as a threat. Russia sees NATO as an extension of the US military and says Ukraine's membership will present a security threat.
Viktor Yushchenko said, "I want to say once again that Ukraine has no plans to locate any military bases on its territory. I'd like to emphasize that it is an objective of today's Constitution. I wish that today's dialogue can help dispel the myths surrounding this issue."
At a summit in April, NATO declined to grant Ukraine a Membership Action Plan to achieve eventual membership but says there will be a review in December.
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, NATO Secretary-general, said, "It is crystal clear that any foreign policy which Ukraine might wish to follow - vis a vis European Union or vis a vis NATO - is a strictly sovereign decision by the Ukrainian government and finally by the Ukrainian people."
Yushchenko says he wants NATO to grant Ukraine the action plan in December.
But the NATO chief stopped short of naming a date.
Ukraine's population is divided over NATO. Opinion polls show more than half of the population have a deeply negative view of NATO.
Both pro and anti-NATO demonstrations were held in Kiev on Monday to reflect the split.
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