In preparation for the November Summit in Riga, NATO Foreign Ministers, meeting informally in Sofia, Bulgaria, 27-28 April, began discussions on the next round of NATO enlargement.

At a press conference on the first day of the meeting, the NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said that this was the beginning of discussions and that no decision on enlargement would be made at the Riga Summit.

But Riga will send a signal on enlargement, the Secretary General told reporters.

The nature of this signal will depend on the performance of the aspirant countries, Mr. De Hoop Scheffer stressed.

“When they are ready, NATO has to be ready,” the Secretary General told reporters.

At present, three countries – Albania, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia - are part of NATO’s Membership Action Plan, a programme of advice and support for countries wishing to join the Alliance.

Two other countries – Ukraine and Georgia – have stated their ambition to join the Alliance, but are not part of the Membership Action Plan, NATO press office reported.
NATO expects that new Cabinet of Ukraine will continue Euro and Atlantic integration course taken by the country, Director of NATO Information and Documentation Centre in Ukraine Michael Dureau told at informal meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission.
Ukraine and NATO as the strategic partners extend the field of the cooperation, Mr. Dureau stressed. He also confirmed NATO support for reforms conducted by Ukrainian government. Ukrainian citizens should know prospects of NATO.

“I would like to open this meeting by welcoming Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk to this informal meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission, a bit more than one year after we launched our Intensified Dialogue on Ukraine's membership aspirations and related reforms in Vilnius. Welcome, Borys.

Over the past twelve months, we have held numerous Intensified Dialogue meetings and continued our strong cooperation. I believe that our increased consultations have helped to deepen Ukraine's understanding of NATO, and kept the Allies abreast of Ukraine's reform efforts.

Our commitment to the Intensified Dialogue underscores that NATO’s door remains open, and that Ukraine’s aspirations are, ultimately, achievable.

It is also an indication of the level of commitment of the nations represented around this table to help Ukraine succeed in this effort. But ultimately, the primary responsibility for success rests with the Ukrainian people and their elected leaders,” said Jaap de Hoop Scheffer in his opening remark at the meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission in Sofia.


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