The New York Times > International > Europe > At NATO Talks, Accord and Discord for U.S. and Russia
More or less on the doorstep of Sweden, NATO has just held the spring meeting of its foreign ministerns in Vilnius in Lithuania.
It was an important event in that it marked the careful upgrading of the relationship between NATO and Ukraine following the profound changes in that important country.
"Intensified dialogue" is the official phrase for the new phase the relationship has now entered.
That doesn't mean that the door is wide open for Ukraine to enter NATO immediately. Such a step would have profound implications in a number of areas, and neither NATO nor the Ukraine is yet ready for it.
But the signal from Vilnius is that a movement in that direction has been initated. That's important in itself.
US Secretary of State Condolezza Rice ame to Vilnius directly from her talks in Moscow, and she made a point in meeting in Lithuania with the opposition leaders from "Europe´s last dictatorship" in neighbouring Belarus.
That's important. The Lukashenko dictatorship is an embarrasement to all of Europe and an aggression to the peoples of Belarus itself. After the changes in Kiev, there is certainly a need to put the question of democratic change in Belarus on the international political agenda.
The NATO meeting in Vilnius contributed to this. Excellent.