KIEV, May 23 (RIA Novosti) - President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko said he is confident that sooner or later the Ukrainian people will realize that it is necessary for their country to join NATO.
Ukraine has been pursuing NATO membership since pro-Western Yushchenko was inaugurated in January 2005. However, regular opinion polls show that the majority of Ukrainians continue to oppose joining the alliance.
"The Ukrainian people are as wise as other European peoples and we will achieve what others have achieved, which is a collective security system that is not aimed against anyone," Yushchenko said late on Friday night in an interview with Inter television channel.
NATO has enlarged since 1999, admitting three ex-Soviet Baltic republics and four Communist-bloc states in Eastern Europe.
The expansion has strained relations between the West and Russia, which is concerned by the new military bases emerging along its borders.
Last December, European NATO members led by Germany blocked U.S.-backed bids by Ukraine and Georgia to join programs leading to membership in the military alliance, but the ex-Soviet states were told they would eventually be allowed to join.