NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said this at a final press conference at the U.S. Department of State on Thursday, April 4, according to an Ukrinform correspondent.
"Georgia and Ukraine are independent sovereign nations, which have the sovereign right to choose their own path," he said when asked by a BBC journalist whether it would be right to publicly announce open invitations for Georgia and Ukraine to NATO since it provokes Russia to create more tension.
Stoltenberg said that just the idea that membership of Georgia or Ukraine in NATO is a "provocation" is really dangerous.
"Then you accept that Russia has the right to decide what neighbors have to do," he said.
He recalled that his native country, Norway, is "a small country bordering Russia." In this regard, it is hard to imagine that the Soviet Union in 1949 dictated whether Norway could be a member of the Alliance, Stoltenberg said.
"In exactly the same way, both Georgia and Ukraine have the right to choose their own path. [...] It's only for the aspirant countries and NATO to decide whether or when they can become members," Stoltenberg said.
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