Bush’s Visit to Kiev is not guarantee of Ukraine’s Admission to NATO: Experts

Azerbaijan, Baku, 31 March / corr. Trend A. Gasimova, D. Novosvitski/ Though the U.S. President's visits to Kiev prior to the NATO summit demonstrates that the Ukrainian membership in the Alliance is on the agenda, it is not pre-determined that this will in fact occur. "President Bush's visit to Kiev will make sure that Ukrainian membership is on the agenda, even if it is not discussed it will be 'the elephant in the room' in Bucharest," said Asle Toje, the Norwegian expert.

George Bush, the U.S. President will discuss the prospects of Ukraine joining the Membership Action Plan (MAP) of NATO in the Bucharest summit to be held in April with his Ukrainian counterpart Victor Yushenko, during his visit to Ukraine which began on 31 March.

"Today Ukraine is not ready to join the Alliance and the Alliance is not ready to offer Kiev membership.  Therefore NATO Defence Ministers pushed the dual-question of Ukrainian and Georgian membership to an unspecified later date," said Asle Toje, Senior FellowNorwegian Institute for Defence Studies (IFS) said to Trend .

The expert said that the President's visit to Ukraine, Romania, and Croatia will underscore the importance of Europe in the US foreign policy. It will also underline America's commitment to further enlarge NATO. "I don't think we should over-estimate the importance of the visit to Kiev. It is of course significant on a symbolic level that the American President initiates his NATO Summit in a country that has applied for membership, but NATO membership is not only decided in Washington. Many hurdles will have to be crossed before the Ukraine can join in the alliance, and it is not pre-determined that this is going to happen," Toje said.

Kiev will not receive a full guarantee to join the NATO MAP during George Bush's visit, but will receive the support of U.S. in this regard once again, Mikhail Pogrebinski, the Ukrainian expert said. "Probably, Bush will say that the doors of NATO are open for Ukraine and U.S. supports Ukraine in this regard. But the final decision will be made in Bucharest, so the hopes of Yushenko's team to receive a guarantee to join MAP will not be justified," said Mikhail Pogrebinski, the director of the Center for Political Studies of Ukraine on 31 March.

According to the political scientist, the position of Russia and Europe are important as well as who opposes Ukraine's joining MAP. " Russia and Europe will adopt relevant decisions regarding Ukraine's membership in NATO from their own viewpoint as it can affect their relations," Pogrebinski said.

France and Germany has already opposed Ukraine joining MAP in the Bucharest summit whereas Great Britain supports Ukraine in this regard.

Alexander Rar, the German expert on international relations said that neither Ukraine nor Georgia will be admitted to the alliance any time soon. "Such NATO member states as Germany, France and Italy do not want to fight with Russia while there is a new chance to put an end to the 'cold war' and to establish a strategic partnership," Alexander Rar, the Director of Program on Russia and CIS of the German Council on Foreign Policy said to Trend on 31 March.

According to the expert, if nationalists, instead of liberal Dmitri Medvedev, had come to power in Russia, the chances of Ukraine and Georgia would be good. "We should understand that the enlargement of NATO is a serious issue for the Western countries as the Alliance is a serious organization and its members are required to identify with one another in case of military threats against one of the members of the Alliance," the expert said.

Rar is not sure that the West would agree to support Georgia in obtaining Abkhazia and it is less likely to support Ukraine in case of a local military conflict with the Slavic coalitionist. "Bush is going to Ukraine to calm down 'orange' coalitionists who do not understand why the doors of NATO are closed to them," said the expert.

The correspondent can be contacted at: [email protected]

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