Only the Ukrainian people can decide whether Ukraine will become a NATO member, but this will take considerable time, says Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė.
President Poroshenko meets President Grybauskaitė in Kyiv
© LRPK / Robertas Dačkus

On Monday, at the press conference with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Kyiv, the Lithuanian president was asked about Ukraine's prospects in the military Alliance. Grybauskaitė reminded that it took Lithuania 14 years before it could join NATO in 2004.

The head of state emphasised that only countries which follow the values of democracy, the rule of law and human rights protection may become NATO and the European Union member states.

"NATO member states are only countries with democratic governments and who are responsible. It is a defensive organisation. The same rules that are applied when joining the EU are applied when joining NATO. You must do your homework and it is highly complicated. However, any country that puts effort and implements reforms may become a NATO member," said Grybauskaitė.

According to the president, no one has a right to suppress the aspirations to become a member of the Alliance, especially neighbours.

"No one can stop any country from applying for NATO membership. No one can dictate Ukraine which direction to chose, especially its neighbours. Your people must decide. (&) Only your people can decide what and how should be done, and nobody can stop you from this - neither the neighbours nor anyone else. But this will take time, you must be ready for this," said Grybauskaitė.

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko said that a decision whether Ukraine should join NATO must be made in a general referendum.

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