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MOSCOW, February 2. /TASS/. In an interview with the Berliner Morgenpost daily, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko said he planned a referendum on Ukraine’s NATO membership.
"What I truly value is people’s opinion. Four years ago 16% of the population were in favor of Ukraine’s NATO membership. Now this figure is 54%," Poroshenko said.
"As the president I will ask the opinion of my people and will hold a referendum on NATO membership. If Ukrainians vote for this, I will do my utmost to achieve membership in the alliance," the German newspaper quoted him as saying.
This is not the first such statement by the president. In response to a people’s petition on Ukraine’s entry into NATO in 2015, he pledged to put this issue to a national referendum, but only then when the country would be ready for that.
Poroshenko also said the state is now reforming the security and defense sector in line with NATO standards, and plans to finish this job by 2020.
Ukraine was the first post-Soviet state joining NATO’s Partnership for Peace program. Later, the then president Leonid Kuchma officially announced Kiev’s bid to join the alliance.
Under President Viktor Yushchenko, a dialog on NATO membership got another boost. But plans were frustrated under President Viktor Yanukovich, when on July 1, 2010 the Ukrainian parliament declared a non-bloc status of Ukraine.
The situation reversed under Pyotr Poroshenko, when the point on a non-bloc status was removed from the law on basic principles of foreign and domestic policy in 2014. In May, Ukraine passed its National Security Strategy, which sets the aim of NATO’s membership.
However, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that despite Ukraine’s waiving its non-bloc status, its NATO membership was a matter of distant future.