News / Europe

    Analysts: NATO Membership for Ukraine Unlikely Anytime Soon

    A meeting at NATO's headquarters (file photo)
    A meeting at NATO's headquarters (file photo)

    Ukrainians go to the polls January 17 to elect a new president.  Current leader Viktor Yushchenko is a strong advocate for Ukraine's membership into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.  But that membership is unlikely to happen anytime soon.

    Ukraine and Georgia have expressed interest in becoming NATO members.  The Bush administration strongly supported their membership bids.  But at the April 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania, member countries declined requests by both nations to begin the process of accession known as a "Membership Action Plan".  The final communiqué simply said NATO leaders agreed that "these countries will become members of NATO" - but no time frame was given.

    A former senior State Department official in the Bush administration, David Kramer, who was responsible for Eurasian and European affairs says both countries have to overcome numerous obstacles before becoming NATO members.

    "Joining NATO means meeting the criteria for joining NATO - countries can't simply fill out an application and become a member the next day.  They do have to undertake reforms that include political, economic as well as security reforms.  And membership is a long process - it does not happen quickly.  And so in some respects, in different areas, Georgia and Ukraine have made progress in these regards.  But in other areas, in other parts of reform, they have a long way to go.  So membership for Ukraine and Georgia is not going to be in the offing anytime soon."

    Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has been pushing for NATO membership since he assumed power five years ago.  But he is on the verge of losing his job as voters go the polls this Sunday to elect a new president.   Public-opinion surveys put Mr. Yushchenko far behind the two front-runners: Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and Viktor Yanukovich, head of the powerful "Party of Regions" in the Ukrainian parliament.

    David Marples from the University of Alberta [Canada] looks at Ms. Tymoshenko's and Mr. Yanukovich's stand on NATO membership. "Tymoshenko is a little unclear on what would happen with NATO . Yanukovich is opposed to it, but he would probably agree to a referendum.  And all the polls so far have suggested that most people would vote against it: something like 55 or 60 percent, which is a very high figure in a referendum, would vote against Ukraine joining NATO," he said.

    Russia has been vehemently opposed to Ukraine's bid to join NATO.  Analysts say as a result of President Yushchenko's attempts to join the alliance, relations between Kiyev and Moscow are at an all-time low. 

    But many experts, including Robert Legvold from Columbia University, say  NATO membership appears to be less of an issue now than it was five years ago at the beginning of the Yushchenko administration.  "One of the interesting things about this election is no candidate, no single candidate, not even Yushchenko, who is after all one of the 18 candidates, is raising the issue of NATO membership in this presidential campaign.  Both objectively in terms of Ukraine's relations with NATO and in terms of the politics of it in Ukraine, as reflected in this presidential election, Ukraine is farther away from NATO membership than before," he said.

    Legvold says that has a lot to do with NATO's perception of Ukraine. "And that is that Ukraine is seen less and less as a fit member of NATO, because it has not been able to deal with these underlying structural problems: it has made a little bit of progress in terms of military reform, but not in terms of corruption or political stabilization or advancing in a way that would make it anything other than for NATO, a basket case to take on.  And NATO has had enough trouble dealing with, just as the European Union, with the enlargements of the past," he said.

    Ukraine is also vying to be a member of the European Union.  But experts say Kiyev has even less of a chance to become an E.U. member because the standards for getting into the European Union are much tighter than they are for membership in NATO.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora