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Ukraine will not join NATO without referendum - PM Tymoshenko

RIA Novosti

19/01/2008 18:40 KIEV, January 19 (RIA Novosti) - A decision on whether Ukraine should join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will only be taken through a referendum, the country's prime minister said on Saturday.

On Friday members of the opposition blocked parliament's work in protest against the government's efforts to gain membership in the Western military alliance.

Yulia Tymoshenko was quoted by the government's press service as saying a decision on whether to join NATO "will be taken exclusively by the Ukrainian people through a nationwide referendum."

The coalition agreement between her eponymous party and the Our Ukraine-People's Self-Defense Bloc stipulates that a referendum must be held on the issue, Tymoshenko said.

On Friday Foreign Minister Volodymyr Ohryzko handed a request for Kiev to join NATO'S Membership Action Plan to the alliance's secretary general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

Another former Soviet state, Georgia, held a referendum on NATO membership on January 5. An overwhelming 77% voted in favor of joining the alliance.