President promises to hold NATO exercise in Crimea “lawfully”

15:16, 06 June 2006
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He said there was an attempt to undermine Ukraine’s relations with NATO.

At today’s press conference in Kyiv, Victor Yushchenko said two military exercises in Crimea would be held lawfully, according to the President’s press-office.

“We will observe the national laws regulating such incidents,” he promised.

He said military exercises had been held in Ukraine since 1997 and thus characterized this year’s problem as an attempt to undermine Ukraine’s relations with other countries and NATO.

The Head of State reiterated that our society needed to discuss fundamentals of Ukraine’s defense and security concept to effectively and reliably ensure the country’s sovereignty. He said recent polls revealed that more than 50% of the citizens did not know much about the alliance and so needed additional information. He opined it was too early to “speculatively initiate” referendums to join NATO.

When speaking about Ukraine’s aspiration to become an authoritative European state, the President said: “When we speak about the value of the ‘single European house’ concept, we must also speak about the value of defense and security policies. We cannot believe in European values speaking about other defense options. I am convinced the single defense concept as a continuation of the ‘European house’ concept is the most effective model of Europe’s future.”

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