Invitation to join NATO will demonstrate alliance's 'courage, strength,' says Zelenskyy

Invitation to join NATO will demonstrate alliance's 'courage, strength,' says Zelenskyy

Ahead of key NATO summit later this month, Ukraine's president receives pledge of support for joining alliance from his Czech counterpart Pavel during official visit to Prague

By Burc Eruygur

ISTANBUL (AA) - Ahead of a key NATO summit in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius later this month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said an invitation to his country for membership would demonstrate the alliance's "courage and strength."

"All that is needed is an invitation. We understand that there may be difficulties with this or that wording in order to get the united support of all partners from the Alliance … However, I believe that this is such a moment - a great chance to show courage and strength of the entire Alliance," Zelenskyy said at a joint press conference late Thursday with his Czech counterpart Petr Pavel during an official visit to Prague.

According to a statement issued by the Ukrainian presidency, Zelenskyy said Kyiv is waiting for a concrete signal regarding an invitation to join NATO, and that his country requires this motivation as well as "honesty in our relations."

NATO has not yet found a common approach regarding Sweden's membership in the alliance, he said, adding that numerous issues related to defense support to Kyiv will be discussed at the NATO summit in Vilnius.

Zelenskyy also expressed gratitude to the Czech Republic for hosting Ukrainians fleeing the ongoing war with Russia, as well as for Prague's military and economic support for Kyiv.

The statement said the two presidents discussed common security issues and strengthening defense cooperation, with Zelenskyy stressing the need for more and tougher sanctions against Russia.

The Ukrainian president also responded to a question about his visit to Türkiye on Friday, indicating that he believes he will reach agreements with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"We have several issues. The grain initiative (is) a very important issue of support for Ukraine in NATO. The exchange of prisoners… There are many things that we will discuss, and I believe that we will have agreements with the President of Türkiye," he said.

- Pavel pledges support to Ukraine

Pavel, for his part, expressed his government's support for Kyiv, saying Ukraine's aspirations to join the EU and NATO should be supported.

"We will do everything for this. We will try to ensure that the negotiation process is launched by the end of this year and that it is clearly stated that Europe will stand by Ukraine in the future," Pavel added.

Pavel assured his Ukrainian counterpart that the Czech Republic will continue to support him in this regard.

Pavel said many Czech firms are collaborating with Ukrainian companies and are "eager to take part in rebuilding" the country both during and after Russia's war.

"We see this as a good opportunity for Czech companies. This is a mutually beneficial cooperation, and we need to pay sufficient attention to it," he said.

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