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Ukraine's Poroshenko Says NATO, EU Referendums To Be Held Soon

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko

Ukraine will hold referendums in the near future on whether to seek NATO and European Union memberships, President Petro Poroshenko said.

Poroshenko, a pro-Western leader whose country is fighting Russia-backed separatists who seized parts of two eastern provinces in 2014, made the remarks in a televised address on December 1.

"We are fully sticking to our path toward European integration," he said.

"Have no doubt that referendums will be held in Ukraine in the very near foreseeable future on joining NATO...and on European Union membership," he said. "I am convinced that the Ukrainian people will support my proposal."

Less than half of Ukrainians -- 43 percent -- back joining the 29-member military alliance, according to a survey released last week.

But support has more than doubled since it stood at 20 percent in 2013, the year before Russia seized Crimea and fomented unrest in the east, where more than 10,000 people have been killed in the conflict since April 2014.

Membership in the 28-member EU enjoys more support among Ukrainians -- 56 percent -- according to the survey.

Poroshenko came to power after Moscow-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych was pushed out by large protests and fled to Russia.

The Euromaidan protests began in November 2013, after Yanukovych made a last-minute decision to scrap a key association agreement with the EU under pressure from the Kremlin.

The accord was signed in 2014 by Poroshenko and came into force this year.

Joining the EU or NATO requires support from existing members, and many EU and NATO countries are wary of taking in Ukraine or believe it will not be ready to join soon.

With reporting by AFP, Unian, and Interfax
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