The Ukrainian President has stressed the urgency of his country’s joining NATO following the recent armed conflict between its neighbours, Russia and Georgia.
Viktor Yushchenko was speaking at a ceremony in Kiev to mark Ukraine’s 17th anniversary of independence from the former Soviet Union.
He said Ukraine must accelerate the process of joining NATO because it is the only means of protecting the lives and well-being of Ukrainian citizens.
The recent violence in Ukraine’s backyard has clearly rattled Yushchenko.
In an interview with the Times newspaper in London this weekend, the President said recent events between Russia and Georgia “show how fragile peace and stability can be” adding that “the peace and security of Europe are under threat.”
He said he hoped Ukraine would now receive a Membership Action Plan when NATO ministers meet in December.
Yushchenko told the paper that the fighting in Georgia will lead to a review of Ukraine’s defence priorities, and he called for an increase in the military budget.