Netherlands threatens to sink EU-Ukraine deal

Netherlands threatens to sink EU-Ukraine deal

PanARMENIAN.Net - The Netherlands has threatened to scupper a trade and security deal between the Ukraine and the EU unless it receives legally binding guarantees at a summit of European leaders next week, the Financial Times reports.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Mark Rutte, Dutch prime minister, outlined his demands for a decision signed by EU heads of government, making clear that the “association agreement” will not create a defence guarantee for Ukraine or be a step towards its eventual membership of the bloc.

“If we do not get this we will put a law to parliament the next day, which will state that we will not ratify the association agreement,” said Rutte.

The deal between Ukraine and the EU was supposed to deepen political, economic and trade links. But the Dutch voted against the deal by a margin of nearly two-to-one in a referendum in April, fearing that the deal could lead to the Netherlands having to provide financial or even military support to Ukraine. Hanging over the campaign was the MH17 disaster, in which 196 Dutch people died when a passenger aircraft was shot down while flying over Ukraine.

Although the referendum turnout was low and the result non-binding, most parties agreed to abide by the outcome, triggering months of talks between The Hague and Brussels.

Leaders from the EU’s 28 member states meet in Brussels on Thursday, December 8 to try to save the deal, which has been ratified by all EU member states except the Netherlands. “We are working on addressing the concerns that were raised in the referendum,” said Mr Rutte.

Some EU countries want to leave the door open to Kiev’s eventually joining the bloc despite fierce opposition from countries such as the Netherlands. Supporters of the association agreement see it as a bulwark against Russian aggression in Ukraine.

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