Merkel against NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia

10:48, 11 March 2008
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The German Chancellor spoke to military leaders in Berlin

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday NATO should not consider any expansion which would include countries that lack clear domestic support or involved in regional conflicts, according to Xinhua.

    "A country should become a NATO member not only when its political leadership is in favor but also when a significant percentage of its population supports the membership," said Merkel in Berlin in apparent reference to Ukraine, whose leaders are in favor of joining the NATO while domestic public opinion is largely against.

    The German chancellor also cast doubt on Georgia`s chance for NATO membership by saying that countries "entangled in regional conflicts should not try to become members."

    Speaking to German military leaders in Berlin, Merkel also said governments should not be driven by temporary interests in joining NATO but should be able to make a "qualitative and meaningful" contribution to the alliance.

    Both Ukraine and Georgia are expected to seek future membership of NATO at the military alliance`s summit on April 2-4 in Romanian capital of Bucharest. German officials, however, have expressed concern that rapid expansion of NATO to Russia`s border would antagonize Russia.     

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