Victor Yushchenko is convinced that Ukraine must learn to protect its security and defense interests, according to the President’s press-office.

      “The system of economic, social, humanitarian, political, democratic, security, and defense values is an integral,” he said in Vilnius.

      The President believes Ukraine has at last adopted democratic values and should now formulate mechanisms to protect them. In his opinion, society is gradually growing aware of the significance of such an approach.

      Speaking about Ukraine’s NATO membership, Mr. Yushchenko said “the path to the Alliance should be understood and appreciated by the people.” He added that Ukrainians had doubted whether they should join the EU a few years ago but now “there are no discussions about which course Ukraine should support.”

      The Chief of State said although Ukraine was actively cooperating with the alliance it was still going through the first stage of membership talks. Thus he thinks it is inexpedient to hold a NATO referendum in Ukraine.

      “We will have referendums. But we will have them when we come closer to the membership issue,” he promised.