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Poland urges NATO countries to back Ukraine's membership bid

RIA Novosti

02/02/2008 14:49 KIEV, February 2 (RIA Novosti) - Poland has called on members of the North Atlantic alliance to support Ukraine's request to join the NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP), the Polish foreign minister said on Saturday.

In mid-January, Ukraine sent NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer a formal letter, requesting consideration of Ukraine's bid to launch its NATO Membership Action Plan.

"We welcome Ukraine's decision, since we believe that the European and Euro-Atlantic prospect is natural for your country. And we are asking our allies to back Ukraine's bid," Radoslaw Sikorski said in an interview with Ukrainian weekly Zerkalo nedeli.

He said the request should have been submitted much earlier and that Ukraine had missed the best possible moment for asking to join the MAP.

"It is regrettable that a letter to the NATO secretary general requesting consideration of its membership bid was not written two years ago, when the memory of the 'orange revolution' was still alive and there was a great sympathy for Ukraine," he said.

However, the minister said Ukraine had a good chance of joining the MAP at a NATO summit scheduled for early April in Bucharest.

A recent poll carried out by Ukraine's Democratic Initiatives foundation showed that over 50% of Ukrainians would vote against joining NATO. In the survey, 51.9% of respondents said they viewed NATO as an "aggressive imperialist bloc that would draw Ukraine into military conflicts."

Russia is concerned over Ukraine's drive to join NATO, saying that may seriously harm Russian-Ukrainian relations.

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