Secretary Rumsfeld and MOD Anatoly Hyrtsenko, Ukraine Press Stakeout following Bi-Laterial Meeting NATO/Ukraine Information Ministerial in Vilnius, Lithuania
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: We've got a real time problem because I am due ten minutes away in 15 minutes, so we will be very brief, or I can leave the Minister here to respond to questions, but I'd prefer not to be late with my meeting with the President.
MOD: ? [Inaudible].
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: I agree. [Laughter].
PRESS: Mr. Minister, Bob Burns from Associated Press. You seem to face at least two obstacles to joining NATO eventually. One being low public opinion of NATO in your country and the other being Moscow's objection. I'd like to know how you intend to raise public opinion, public support for NATO membership, and also what sort of additional pressure do you expect to get from Moscow as you move closer?
Minister Hyrtsenko: I'll start with the Russian issue. I don't see it as a really serious issue because Russia in many ways [inaudible] Russia [inaudible] as a NATO state or the Baltic state NATO members [inaudible] Russia. So despite all the worry [inaudible] from President Putin, there is no threat for the Russian [inaudible].
Ukraine is establishing and continuing normal relations with Russia and in no way threatens Russian [inaudible].
Regarding the public opinion in Ukraine, we believe it's A, a lack of knowledge; B, it's [inaudible] that would be easily broken like NATO, [inaudible] or does not mean that the Russians [inaudible] or does not mean [inaudible]. But [inaudible] an issue for trust in Ukrainian government. If Ukrainian government succeeds in domestic reforms then being supported by the population, the population would support the authorities [inaudible].
PRESS: A question for both Ministers, please. When does Ukraine can get invitation to the membership actual plan, and can it happen this December on a [inaudible] NATO [inaudible]?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: That's a decision that is going to be made by NATO. I can speak for the United States that we obviously have been working with Ukraine and their government and assisting them with the various types of reforms and activities that would put them on a path towards NATO. And progress has been made. We encourage it and are available to be of assistance in various ways.
Minister Hyrtsenko: [inaudbile].
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Thank you.