Ukraine insists to push forward EU despite Dutch rejection

Ukraine is determined to push forward EU despite Netherlands' rejection in referendum of cooperation treaty between EU and Ukraine on Wednesday

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko (C) speaks to media as he visits Miraikan (National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation) in Tokyo, Japan, April 7, 2016.

Updated Apr 7, 2016

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on Thursday his country will continue moving towards the European Union despite a resounding rejection by Dutch voters of a treaty on closer ties between the European body and Ukraine.

"Under any circumstances we will continue to implement the association agreement with the European Union including a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement," Poroshenko told reporters in Tokyo.

"We will continue our movement towards the European Union."

Dutch voters largely rejected a cooperation accord between the EU and Ukraine on Wednesday with some 61 percent against the deal, the Dutch news agency ANP projected, adding that enough people had taken part for the referendum to be valid.

Only 38 percent voted in favour of the deal, in a ballot which could have broad implications for the Netherlands and Europe.

European Council President Donald Tusk said the European Union will wait to hear what the Dutch government will propose doing about Wednesday's rejection in a referendum of an EU-Ukraine treaty.

"I will continue to be in contact with Prime Minister (Mark) Rutte on this, as I need to hear what conclusions he and his government will draw from the referendum and what his intentions will be. The EU-Ukraine agreement continues to be provisionally applied. The EU-Ukraine agreement has already been ratified by the other 27 member states."

Demonstrators call for people to vote no in the EU referendum during a protest at Dam Square in Amsterdam, the Netherlands April 3, 2016. The banners read "Referendum April 6. No is 3 times better" and the big letters collectively read "No". [Reuters]

The political, trade and defence treaty is already provisionally in place but has to be ratified by all 28 European Union member states for every part of it to have full legal force. The Netherlands is the only country that has not done so.

The Dutch government has voiced on Wednesday that it could not ignore the vote but that it may take weeks to decide how to respond.

The referendum was seen as a test of sentiment towards Brussels ahead of Britain's June Brexit vote and could also be a boost for Russia.

Poroshenko also downplayed the importance of the referendum, which is non-binding, but voiced Ukraine should "take it into consideration" and added that they were awaiting a decision by the government and parliament of the Netherlands.

Dutch leaders campaigning for the treaty had said voting against it would also hand a symbolic victory to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Many Ukrainian politicians feel their country deserves the treaty and are keen to show they have made progress in aligning their country with EU standards since the 2014 uprising that toppled pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich.

Pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine are accused of bringing down an airliner in 2014 with the loss of almost 200 Dutch lives.

Poroshenko also reiterated his denial that he put his assets in an offshore trust to minimise taxes, after the country's fiscal service said it was looking into documents relating to his offshore assets that were included in the "Panama Papers."

TRTWorld and agencies