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Ukraine's non-bloc status cancelled, referendum on NATO accession due in 5-6 years

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko has signed into law the bill cancelling Ukraine's non-bloc status

KIEV, december 29. /TASS/. Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko has signed into law the bill cancelling Ukraine's non-bloc status. Poroshenko said Ukraine will hold a referendum on accession to NATO in the next 5-6 years.

“I want to carry out reforms to make the country meet the standards of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. These standards coincide 99%. When Ukraine meets these standards, the Ukrainian people will hold a referendum on a possible accession to NATO within the next five or six years,” Poroshenko said.

The non-aligned status, which Ukraine adopted in 2010, “is a strategic cardinal mistake”, he said.

Ukraine's parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, last week voted to give up Ukraine’s non-aligned status. The bill submitted by Petro Poroshenko envisioned giving up the status of a non-aligned state and returning to the policy of rapprochement with NATO.

In late November, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the membership may be sought by countries that fulfil the criteria for becoming NATO allies, and that is also valid for Ukraine. Ukraine cannot join NATO as long as an armed conflict continues in the east of the country.

Kiev started building ties with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Ukraine was one of the first former Soviet states which joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace Program in 1994.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the idea of Ukraine’s bid for NATO membership is dangerous not only for the Ukrainian people, but also for entire European security.

Ukraine sets up movement for 2015 referendum to enter NATO

Several well-known Ukrainian politicians demand that Ukraine should become a NATO member state.

The politicians, including first Ukrainian president Leonid Kravchuk, gathered in an initiative group to create a movement for Ukraine’s likely accession to NATO. Organisers said at a news conference they hoped that this step would allow Ukraine to hold a referendum on entry in the North Atlantic Alliance already in 2015.

The initiative group urged the Ukrainian authorities “to resume immediately Euro-Atlantic foreign political course, apply for accession to NATO and promote holding an all-Ukraine referendum on support for Ukraine’s membership in NATO.”

Ukraine does not have another way out, except for the entry to NATO, Leonid Kravchuk said. “If we want to survive, we should become a NATO member state, but we should start with a referendum,” he said with confidence.

Meanwhile, Ukraine may have some problems on the path to NATO, former Prime Minister and former Defense Minister Yevgeny Marchuk said. “The procedure to join NATO is quite complicated, it is difficult in technological terms and its requirements,” he noted, admitting that “it won't easy, because not all NATO states have such positions as we would like them to have.” “Ukraine can acquire a Membership Action Plan status only after a referendum,” he said.