US Ambassador to Ukraine urges reforms
"If you want to join NATO, we will be very helpful", he said
The U.S. ambassador urged Ukraine Monday to form a government quickly and push through reforms to hasten its economic and political integration with the West, according to AP.
Addressing students at a university in Kiev, Ambassador William Taylor called on the former Soviet republic`s feuding leaders to put together a governing coalition. He said the country should implement judicial reforms and anti-corruption measures, and take the final steps necessary to join the World Trade Organization.
The two pro-Western parties central in staging the 2004 peaceful Orange Revolution that helped bring President Viktor Yushchenko to power won enough parliament seats in elections Sept. 30 to form a Cabinet together. They have pledged to forge a coalition once the new legislature convenes.
While he urged economic integration with the European Union, Taylor said the issue of NATO membership must be resolved following broad public discussion.
"My simple view on Ukraine and NATO is that it`s up to Ukrainians decide," he said.
"If you want to join, we will be very helpful, but we are not going to push you to want to join."
Ukraine is sharply divided over NATO membership. Most Ukrainians, particularly in the largely Russian-speaking east and south, remain skeptical about joining former Cold War adversaries in the military alliance.
Taylor also said it should reduce its energy dependence on Russia by developing its own oil and gas fields and looking into alternative energy sources such as bio, wind and nuclear.
He urged Ukraine to get rid of RosUkrEnergo, a middleman company, through which it buys Central Asian gas from Russia, and adopt a more direct and transparent method.
Yushchenko`s Orange Revolution partner Yulia Tymoshenko, who has a good chance of returning to the prime minister`s post, has criticized the RosUkrEnergo arrangement as corrupt, and pledged to get rid of it.