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NATO Signs Agreement On Use Of Ukrainian Aircraft

7 June 2004 -- NATO has signed an agreement with Ukraine on using Ukrainian transport planes, but reiterated that alliance membership for the country is a long way off.

NATO officials said on 7 June that the memorandum sets out NATO's likely needs for the use of Ukrainian aircraft and serves as a framework for future cooperation.

However, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said Ukraine must strengthen its democratic credentials before it can be considered for NATO membership.

At a meeting in Warsaw, de Hoop Scheffer said that strengthening of democratic institutions, the development of civil society, and guaranteeing the rule of law are all crucial preconditions for closer NATO ties.

Ukraine has been praised for sending troops to Iraq and Kosovo, but criticized for corruption and lack of media freedom.