Ukraine amends constitution to cement EU, NATO course

Ukraine on Thursday adopted "historic" changes to its constitution, spelling out the country's aspirations to join the EU and NATO two months before a crucial presidential vote. 

In a final third reading in parliament, a total of 334 lawmakers approved the amendments to the country's basic law, with 35 voting against. Changes to the constitution require 300 votes to pass.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who initiated the bill and is running for re-election on March 31, called the passing of the legislation a "momentous" decision. "It's a historic day today," he added.

"Ukraine will join the EU, Ukraine will join NATO!" speaker Andriy Parubiy said after the vote.

After five years in power, Poroshenko launched his re-election bid last week.

Opinion polls put him behind Ukrainian comedian Volodymyr Zelensky and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Some saw the legislation as a move to buttress Poroshenko's standing in the run-up to the polls. Others said the adoption of such amendments would be difficult if a Kremlin-friendly candidate came to power in the March vote.

Source(s): AFP