The current Ukrainian authorities repeatedly stated that NATO membership was out of question.
The Secretary General stressed that any European state that is able to promote compliance with the basic principles of the alliance and ready to contribute to security in its area, may apply for membership in NATO. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Georgia are reportedly seeking to become NATO members.
Mr.Rasmussen also stressed that the partnership with Ukraine would continue to strengthen. Next week Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andrey Deshchytsa is to discuss cooperation with the alliance.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s office term as Secretary General of NATO expires in September 2014. He will be replaced by the former prime minister of Norway, Jens Stoltenberg.
Ukrainian Prime Minister designate Arseny Yatsenyuk repeatedly stated that the question of joining NATO was not on the agenda. This was also confirmed by Foreign Minister Andrey Deshchytsa. He reminded that in accordance with country’s laws, Ukraine is a non-aligned state.
Hall Gardner, Professor of Political Science at The American University of Paris, comments:
How do you expect NATO’s relations with Ukraine to develop?
I think it is absolutely crucial at this point that neither NATO nor Russia do anything to aggravate the situation. I think we have to calm down, think about this, after the annexation of Crimea they have to do everything to calm it down. Now Ukraine has stated in the past that it would not join NATO, that it is neutral and I think it is a mistake on the part of NATO to continue to push for what is called “open enlargement”. That is to say that we need really joint NATO, Ukraine and Russian cooperation in calming the situation down. And that is going to take some time to achieve because of the annexation of Crimea. But in my view as the dust settles, we can begin to think about new ways to establish European security. This is going to take a while to negotiate but I believe it is possible.
Where do you think NATO is going to be expanding in Eastern Europe? What does that entail?
It is looking to the Balkans right now and of course this is one of the factors that created the tensions with Russia to begin with when NATO intervened in Serbia and split off Kosovo, this led the Russians to push for the separation of South Ossetia from Georgia, that was kind of tit for tat relations where both sides are competing with each other for control over Black Sea, Caucuses and Balkans region. And that rivalry has to end, if it is not going to end in a disaster. In other words, the possibility of conflict generated particularly if Ukraine doesn’t remain neutral, or Ukraine is divided, becomes more possible that the divided Ukraine would generate a new cold war. So, with the tensions in the Caucuses and over the Black Sea and Balkans area begins to generate tensions between Russia and NATO. My point is that, as Kissinger said, Ukraine is absolutely essential that it remains neutral, we begin to discuss what this Crimean annexation means and look towards ways to bring both sides together as opposed to split them apart.
Could NATO’s policy change when Jens Stoltenberg takes the reins from Anders Fogh Rasmussen as NATO’s leader?
I think he is a little bit more neutral on the NATO enlargement question. I don’t think he wants to do anything that will really antagonize or exacerbate the crisis that we are already facing. As I said, it is most important that we need to calm down. The present Secretary of NATO for example has offered to provide NATO assistance to Ukrainian military but that is really posturing. There is not much that NATO can do in support of Ukraine’s arms forces at this point. The Ukrainian army has been obliterated since Yanukovich took control. And what I am worried about here is that NATO is sending a long message that if there is a hope that Ukraine might shift towards NATO at some point, that is going to divide the population between the pro-NATO side and the pro-western side. That is precisely the signal that we can’t afford to generate at this time. We have to find ways that the Europeans, the US and Russians work together on these questions.