Ukraine to hold referendum on joining NATO
Kiev: Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko said here Monday a referendum will be held to decide whether his country should join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
"Only the people of Ukraine will decide whether to join NATO or not during a referendum," Xinhua quoted Poroshenko as saying at a joint press conference with Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite.
Ukrainian authorities have been working out certain criteria, which the country should meet within the coming years to obtain NATO membership, Poroshenko said, who nevertheless insisted that the attempt to join the alliance now "will bring more harm than advantages."
Ukraine and NATO established their partnership in 1991, shortly after Kiev gained its independence from the former Soviet Union. Ukraine closely cooperates with the alliance and actively participates in NATO's Partnership for Peace Programme.
In March 2010, the Ukrainian parliament approved a law which bars the country's membership in any military blocs but allows cooperation.
Amid a crisis in eastern Ukraine, where government troops had been fighting against independence-seeking insurgents, Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk has called on the parliament to promptly pass a bill on the abolishment of the non-aligned status of Ukraine to pave the way for the restoration of the country's course towards NATO membership.