Netherlands: Geert Wilders and ‘left’ Socialistische Partij celebrate rejection of Ukraine partnership.
Geert Wilders and ‘left’ Socialistische Partij to celebrate rejection of Ukraine partnership.
Netherlands rejects EU-Ukraine partnership deal
Reports the BBC.
Voters in the Netherlands have rejected in a referendum an EU partnership deal to remove trade barriers with Ukraine.
Turnout was low, 32.2%, but above the 30% threshold for the vote to be valid. The deal was rejected by 61.1% of votes, compared with 38.1% in favour.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the government may have to reconsider the deal, although the vote is not binding.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko insisted his country would “continue our movement towards the EU”.
A foreign ministry official in Kiev told the BBC that the result was disappointing, adding that Dutch Eurosceptics could not take Ukraine hostage to express dissatisfaction with the EU.
The FT reported at the end of March.
…it is another outrage, in the rural countryside of east Ukraine two years ago, that is informing the referendum debate.
Dutch relations with Russia are hugely sensitive in the wake of the July 2014 explosion of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukrainian airspace controlled by Russia-backed separatists. A total of 298 people lost their lives on the flight which departed from Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport carrying 194 Dutch nationals.
Until the tragedy the Dutch government was seen as one of the closest EU countries to Moscow, with a huge amount of Russian trade flowing through Rotterdam’s port and scores of Dutch companies actively investing in Russia.
During the Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi in 2014, the Dutch king was photographed enjoying a Heineken beer with Mr Putin — even as the rest of Europe was distancing itself from Moscow as the revolution in Kiev’s Maidan square reached its climax.
But Mr Putin’s policy to undermine the successors of Ukraine’s deposed Russia-backed president Viktor Yanukovich, who failed at the eleventh hour to sign the EU trade deal, and the subsequent military campaign in the east of the former soviet state has divided opinion in the referendum.
The subsequent moves by Nato to strengthen its presence on the EU’s eastern borders has added to a heated debate about the relationship between the EU and Russia.
“Without giving support to Putin’s vision, we do understand the feeling in Russia that the EU and Nato are moving eastward, because those are the facts,” said Harry van Bommel, a member of parliament and foreign affairs spokesman for the leftwing Socialist party, which is advocating rejection. Ratification of the EU-Ukraine association agreement “will absolutely lead to more tension with Russia and that is in nobody’s interests — Russia and Europe need each other”.
But such arguments sound like “parroting, almost word for word, the Kremlin line”, said Michiel van Hulten, a former Dutch MEP who now heads Stem Voor Nederland (Vote For Netherlands), a leading pro-EU campaign group.
The Dutch Socialist Party, Socialistische Partij, (a former ‘Marxist Leninist’ group that has now evolved into, what it has evolved into, 9,7% of the vote in the last Netherlands General election and 15 Parliamentary seats*) played a prominent part in the campaign, as the Russian state funded ‘Sputnik‘ obligingly reports:
The Dutch Socialist Party (SP) launched a campaign on Saturday against Kiev’s association agreement with the European Union as the Netherlands is heading toward a referendum on the deal.
Their view is that “Ukraine is better off as a buffer state between the EU and Russia.
They also add (Socialist Party),
there are a lot more things which serve to offer reasons to vote ‘no’ on April 6th. As a socialist it speaks for itself that I reject the neoliberal character of this treaty, a treaty which is of course fervently desired by international corporate business. The agreement provides for the privatisation of state-owned companies in Ukraine and the liberalisation of markets. It includes a ban on state aids (art.262) and prescribes the promotion of exports to the EU by the EU itself (art 379). Dutch truckers have previously lost jobs to Polish drivers posted here. Those who survived will soon lose out to Ukrainian drivers.
It looks like the Dutch people said NO to the European elite and NO to the treaty with the Ukraine. The beginning of the end of the EU.
— Geert Wilders (@geertwilderspvv) April 6, 2016
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