U.S. President Backs Ukraine And Georgia

BERLIN -- Ukraine and Georgia should be given a "clear prospect" of joining NATO, U.S. President George W. Bush said in an interview to be published Monday.

In an interview with German daily Die Welt, Bush said there would be no decision on Ukraine and Georgia joining NATO at a the alliance's summit in Bucharest this week but instead on their right to apply for it.

"I think it's in our interest to give Georgia and Ukraine a clear prospect here," Bush said.

Bush said comments on possible NATO membership for Ukraine by President-elect Dmitry Medvedev, in which he said it would pose a threat to Russian security, reflected the opinion of President Vladimir Putin.

"When I spoke to Putin recently, he mentioned those arguments," Bush said. "I have a clear opinion about that: If someone has democracies on their borders, then that's good, not bad. Democracies tend to be peaceful. Democracies that do the will of their people do not tend to wage war."

Asked about apparent opposition to joining NATO among the Ukrainian people, Bush said that if they voted against it in a referendum "at the appropriate time" it would not happen.

"But the decision should not be made outside the country but by the people themselves," he said.