The puzzle of NATO-Ukraine relations the importance of images in Ukraine's bid for NATO membership
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This thesis examines the puzzle of NATO-Ukraine relations and the uncertainty that characterizes the nation's integration into NATO. Despite Ukraine's pluralistic reforms, considerable democratic advances and President Victor Yushchenko's continuous assertion of the high priority given Euro-Atlantic integration in Ukrainian foreign policy, NATO does not perceive Ukraine as a potential ally. In addition, the majority of the Ukrainian population holds a distorted and negative image of NATO and objects to the idea that their nation will join the Alliance. The politico-psychological realm of international relations theory offers a framework to demonstrate the importance of images in NATO-Ukraine relations and thus explains the puzzling nature of Ukraine's relationship with the Alliance. Historically, NATO's perception of Ukraine focused on Ukraine's international behavior and foreign policy motivations, and this perception affected the forms of cooperation the Alliance proposed to Ukraine. Unless Ukraine is perceived as a stable ally, it will not be invited to be part of the NATO Membership Action Plan, and the main priority of Ukraine's foreign policy's full integration into European and Euro-Atlantic institutions will remain impossible. Being seen as a NATO ally, as well as reversing the Ukrainian public's negative view of the Alliance, is a major responsibility of the Ukrainian leadership. However, it is also crucially important that Western democracies keep the door open for Ukraine.
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