NATO doors opened for Ukraine - Stoltenberg
The doors of NATO are opened for Ukraine, although the decision to allow Ukraine to join the Alliance will be taken by all 29 members, NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg has said at the Halifax International Security Forum (HISF).
He said that the NATO doors are opened, and the best proof of this is that since the end of the Cold War to the present day, the number of NATO members has nearly doubled. Secondly, this year we also received a new member. Montenegro joined us in spring and NATO now has 29 members. Consequently, NATO's doors are open. Of course, in order to become a member of NATO it is necessary to fulfill the requirements of the Alliance and to reform. Both Georgia and Ukraine are now focused on reforms, on modernizing defense institutions, fighting corruption and strengthening democratic institutions, according to a posting on the Radio Liberty website, referring to Stoltenberg.
Asked about the Alliance's attitude to the issue of Ukraine and Georgia's membership, he said that NATO, Canada, other allies are helping both Ukraine and Georgia with the implementation of reforms. In the end, the decision to accept or reject new members will be taken by 29 NATO member countries, no one else has the right to intervene and veto this process, he said. Each sovereign country has the right to determine its own way and NATO will decide whether we will expand or not, Stoltenberg added.
Defense Minister of Canada Harjit Singh Sajjan backed Ukraine's NATO membership.
Ukraine has no stronger support than it receives from Canada, he said. Canada has more than a million citizens of Ukrainian origin, and the country is very sensitive to what is happening in Ukraine right now - before the illegal annexation of the Crimea, the events in the Donbas. First, these problems should be solved and work on reforms in the Armed Forces of Ukraine should continue so that the country eventually not only joined NATO, but became self-sufficient, he said.
Sajjan also confirmed that if these problems are settled, Canada will support Ukraine's full NATO membership.
Canada cannot forget about Ukraine, he said. Some 200 of Canadian military servicemen are staying there. Canada's efforts in Ukraine are not isolated, they are part of a broader effort, a collective signal of deterrence, which is addressed to Russia, Sajjan said, answering a question about the overseas security of Canada's missions.