Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Jens Stoltenberg says NATO's door remains open for Ukraine to become its member.
He announced this at a joint press conference with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal in Brussels on February 9, according to an UNIAN correspondent.
"And as I said, NATO's door remains open, and we work with countries like Ukraine," he said.
In this regard, he recalled that in a very successful way, new countries were invited to join the Alliance, and in recent years, Montenegro and North Macedonia became NATO members.
"We have in a very successful way, step by step, invited new countries to join the Alliance and just over the last couple of years. NATO has been enlarged with Montenegro, and North Macedonia and NATO made a decision, back in 2008, about the membership of Ukraine. We stand by that decision and all subsequent decisions following that Summit. I was actually present at that Summit back in 2008, and as I said, NATO has reiterated the decision," he said.
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Yet, he said, Ukraine's attention should now be focused on the issue of reforms.
"Then I think that the focus now should be on the reforms, and I welcome the clear message from the Prime Minister on the need to continue to reform, to make sure that we have, or Ukraine has, democratic political control over its defense institutions and armed forces, that continued efforts to fight corruption and to strengthen democratic institutions of Ukraine," he said.
In this regard, he says he is convinced that the above mentioned measures are useful for Ukraine itself.
"This is good for Ukraine, regardless of NATO. But in addition, the more successful Ukraine is in implementing reforms, the closer Ukraine hopes to meet NATO standards, and the closer you can come to the NATO membership. I cannot give you a specific date. I will only tell you that we will continue to support Ukraine on their Euro Atlantic aspiration, we will support Ukraine, as you can move towards NATO membership. And the best way of doing that is to focus on reforms and to continue to modernize and strengthen the democratic institutions of Ukraine," he added.
Ukraine-NATO: Previous developments
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an interview for Axios on the U.S.-based HBO channel that Ukraine wants to be an equal member of NATO. "We are grateful for everything, but Ukraine is not just saying in words that it wants to be an equal member of the Alliance, an equal member of NATO, because this is one of the most important security points – the same security that President [of the United States Joe] Biden is speaking about. How should we further state the desire to accede, if it is enshrined in the Constitution of Ukraine – the movement towards the European Union, European integration, as well as accession to NATO? Therefore, I have a very simple question – why is Ukraine still not in NATO? Putting away these phrases that we will all contemplate and communicate, the first simple question from me would be: 'Mr. President, why are we not in NATO yet?'" he said then.
- Zelensky expressed the hope that during Biden's presidency, Ukraine and the United States would enter a new stage of security enhancing relations.