NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said he is confident that Ukraine's future lies within Euro-Atlantic cooperation.
"Let me stress that I have no doubt that the future of Ukraine lies within Euro-Atlantic cooperation. Again, of course, it's for Ukraine to decide, but I hope that the door remains open for a closer relationship with the EU, as well as NATO," he said at a press conference in Brussels on Thursday. When asked about the prospects for the development of relations between Ukraine and NATO, Rasmussen referred to the decision previously made at the NATO summit in Bucharest that Ukraine will join NATO if it so wishes and if it meets the necessary criteria. He also noted that since that time the new political leadership of Ukraine had declared a non-aligned policy of the Ukrainian state. "We fully respect that. But at the same time, Ukraine has stated that Ukraine wants to continue its partnership with NATO within the NATO-Ukraine Commission. And, furthermore, as I indicated in today's introduction, Ukraine has decided to contribute to Operation Ocean Shield for the first time... Ukraine is a very active partner of NATO, and we appreciate that," Rasmussen said. He noted that he had recently met with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who confirmed Ukraine's interest in continuing and further developing the partnership with NATO.