Stoltenberg: NATO doors are open to Ukraine

NATO’s doors are open to Ukraine, but the decision to allow Ukraine to join will be made by all 29 members of the alliance, NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg said during the Halifax International Security Forum, Interfax Ukraine reports.

“The doors of NATO are open, and the best evidence of this is the fact that the number of NATO members has nearly doubled since the end of the Cold War. Secondly, we also gained a new member this year. Montenegro joined us in spring, bringing NATO’s membership up to 29 countries. Therefore the doors of NATO are open. Of course, in order to become a member of NATO, it is necessary to comply with the alliance’s requirements, to reform. Georgia and Ukraine are both focusing on reforms, on modernizing defense institutions, fighting corruption and strengthening democratic institutions,” Stoltenberg said on November 17.

When asked about the alliance’s attitude to Ukraine’s and Georgia’s applications for membership, he emphasized that NATO, Canada and other allies would help Ukraine and Georgia to implement reform.

“At the end of the day, the decision to accept or not to accept new members will be made by NATO’s 29 member states. No one else has the right to interfere or to veto the process. Each sovereign country has the right to determine its own path independently, and NATO will decide whether or not we will expand,” Stoltenberg added.

Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan also supported Ukraine’s membership in NATO:

“Ukraine has has no stronger support than what it receives from Canada. We have more than a million citizens of Ukrainian descent. We are very sensitive to what is going on in Ukraine – the wrongful annexation of Crimea, developments in the Donbas. First, these problems should be addressed, and work done to reform the Armed Forces of Ukraine, so that eventually not only will they join NATO, they will also become independent, which is in the interests of Ukraine itself,” he observed.

Sajjan also confirmed that if these problems are resolved, Canada will support Ukraine’s full membership in NATO.

“We cannot forget Ukraine. 200 of our soldiers are there. Our efforts in Ukraine are not isolated, they are part of broader efforts, a collective signal of deterrence, addressed to Russia,” Sajjan said in response to a question about Canada’s overseas peacekeeping missions.

  Stoltenberg, NATO, Ukraine