Jean-Pierre Jouyet, French secretary of state for European affairs, declared he was personally opposed to Ukraine and Georgia joining NATO because it was "not the right time" and "not in Europe's interest".
France's minister for European affairs on Wednesday said he was opposed to Georgia and Ukraine entering the NATO military alliance for now because it would not benefit Europe.
"I think that it is not the right time for membership for Georgia and Ukraine," Jean-Pierre Jouyet said on the sidelines of a European Parliament session.
"It is not in the interests of Europe or its relations with Russia."
NATO foreign ministers are in December set to once again examine Georgia and Ukraine's candidacy for membership, strongly denounced by Moscow.
While Jouyet said he was expressing his personal opinion, he in fact confirmed a view repeatedly expressed by Paris.
Along with Germany, France has been reluctant to take the two ex-Soviet states into the alliance and draw the wrath of Russia, which has made it clear it would regard such a move as something close to a hostile action by NATO.
US President George W. Bush pushed hard at a NATO summit in Bucharest last April in favour of membership for Georgia and Ukraine.
However, NATO refused at the summit to grant Ukraine and Georgia "Membership Action Plan" (MAP) status after French and German opposition, though leaders agreed on a statement saying "that these countries will become members of NATO."
According to Paris and Berlin, the conflict this summer between Georgia and Russia had only confirmed the risk of taking Tbilisi into the alliance.
Russia launched a military attack on Georgia on August 8 in response to a Georgian military offensive to take the rebel region of South Ossetia back under government control.
Date created : 2008-10-22