According to an exclusive Reuters report, the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has prepared an ultimatum for the European Union leaders regarding the ratification of the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement.
The agreement, which in Ukraine is viewed as a historic milestone and a roadmap to full EU membership, was signed in June 2014 and ratified by all the EU member states except the Netherlands, where it was voted down by 61% of the voters in a national referendum on April 6, 2016.
Unless ratified by the Dutch parliament, the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement cannot enter into force and is essentially void.
In response to the referendum results, the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has drafted an amendment to the original agreement, saying that he will not seek a ratification from parliament unless the demands of his country are met.
The Dutch-added requirements include legally binding guarantees that the association agreement will not serve as a first step to Ukraine’s membership in the EU, nor will obligate the Union and its member states to provide collective security guarantees or other military aid or assistance to Ukraine. Lastly, the Netherlands is seeking a ban on residence and work permits in the EU for Ukrainian citizens.
The Reuters writers:
Rutte is trying to free himself from a political bind after Dutch voters, concerned about the costs, rejected the so-called association agreement in a referendum in April. If his demands are met, he plans to go back to his parliament to win an endorsement that would overwrite the negative vote.
The Dutch are therefore seeking a legally binding decision by the 28 EU leaders that the association agreement is “not a stepping stone” to EU membership for Kiev, one source said. This is not to the liking of Poland, a key supporter of Ukraine.
“For us it is hard to accept. If it were not to lead to membership at some point in the future, then why bother with all that?” Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski told reporters.
A draft document for the EU leaders to approve, prepared by the Dutch and seen by Reuters, also rules out financial or security guarantees for Ukraine and spells out that Ukrainians are not being given the right to live and work in the bloc.
“The stakes are high,” one diplomat said. “At the end of the day, if the association agreement is not ratified by the Dutch, it will be a defeat for Ukraine, a defeat for the EU and a victory for Russia.”
Another diplomat said: “It’s expensive but worth it. At this stage, it’s either this or nothing.”
For that reason, diplomats expect a deal, even if some governments – especially Ukraine’s close allies in eastern Europe – are concerned and irritated by the Dutch demands. EU ambassadors were discussing the issue further on Monday in Brussels.
One can only imagine the mood in Kiev as the russophobic and neo-Nazi backed regime witnesses the collapse of its European dream, and the slow disintegration of Europe along with its hypocritical values.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.