The delegation led by Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer arrived in Ukraine on Monday on a two-day visit to discuss the expansion of political dialogue between Ukraine and the alliance.
A group of about 300 protesters from Ukraine's Party of Regions, the Communist Party, the Socialist Party and other leftist organizations set up a picket line in front of Kharkov National University where eight NATO envoys held a round table on Ukraine's prospects of joining the alliance.
Ukraine's pro-Western leadership has been pursuing NATO membership since 2004, when President Viktor Yushchenko came to power. Ukraine failed to secure membership in the NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP), a key step toward joining the alliance, at a NATO summit in April, but was told the decision would be reviewed in December.
Supporters of Ukraine's accession to NATO were also present at the site but in smaller numbers. They were separated from the leftists by a police cordon.
In an interview with Ukrainian television on the eve of his visit to Ukraine, the NATO chief said the Ukrainian people must decide whether the country should join NATO or not.
A poll conducted in April by the FOM-Ukraina pollster showed a majority of Ukrainians are against their country joining NATO.
The poll revealed that 54.9% of respondents would vote against joining the military alliance if a referendum were to be held tomorrow, and that 22.3% would back joining NATO.
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Ukraine has not preserved its 1991 borders. The signing of the Geneva memorandum on April 17 reaffirmed the willingness of Russia, the United States and EU countries to reach a compromise. While the sides continue to trade tough talk and symbolic sanctions, the Kremlin and the White House are also holding a parallel dialogue on the coordinated geopolitical revision of Eastern Europe.