Ukraine Foreign Ministry spins NATO rejection as "no defeat"

Other News Materials 3 April 2008 16:27 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - A senior Ukrainian diplomat on Thursday said NATO's rejection of membership by the former Soviet republic in the Atlantic alliance any time soon "would not be considered a defeat."

The official, a top functionary to Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, spoke to the Interfax news agency without attribution, as Kiev was still waiting for a formal response from NATO members on the idea, he said.

NATO members meeting in Bucharest are widely predicted to reject giving Ukraine a Membership Accession Plan (MAP) whose conditions, if fulfilled, would give Ukraine entrance into the treaty group.

Germany and France are opposed to giving Ukraine a MAP, while new NATO members such as Poland and Hungary are supporters of the idea. NATO decisions require a unanimous vote in favour.

Officially, talks between NATO members were still in progress on Thursday, with delegates attempting to hammer out a common position on Ukrainian membership.

Russia, a non-NATO member but a critical energy supplier for Germany and France, is outspoken in its criticism of the idea that Ukraine might join NATO.

"This (the expected Franco-German veto of early Ukrainian NATO membership) we do not have to consider a defeat for Ukraine or a victory for Russia, this is just the reality of the present day, and there is no need to over-dramatize this," the official said.

"Sooner or later Ukraine will receive and begin fulfilling MAP conditions," he said.

Ukraine would be given the invitation to convert its army and impose other reforms necessary for NATO membership, at the 60th annual NATO summit in 2009, the Ukrainian official predicted.

Ukraine's population is solidly against NATO membership by a two to one margin.

Ukraine's pro-Europe government is nonetheless in favour of joining NATO, arguing the only alternative is becoming a political and economic satellite to Russia.