Netherlands PM against Ukraine joining EU

Prime Minister Mark Rutte is against the Ukraine gaining membership to the European, he said in an interview with one week before the referendum on the association agreement between the EU and the Ukraine. He reiterated that the association agreement and therefore the referendum is not about the Ukraine joining the EU.

"Opponents of the agreement say it is a step towards accession to the European Union. That is not what the agreement is about. The Netherlands is against it, because we believe that Ukraine should have a good relationship both with Europe and with Russia. That can not happen if they are in the European Union" Rutte said. He acknowledged that a good relationship between Russia and the Ukraine will not happen any time soon, "but for the long term it really matters."

Rutte also addressed some of the agreement-opponents other concerns. "They say that extra money goes to Ukraine. That is not true. Of the EU money already going to the Ukraine, the Netherlands contributes 11.1 million per year. That is about a third of the cost of the referendum." The agreement is also not about free movement of people. "So crazy enough I agree wit all important points of the opponents. But the agreement is also not about that. So I ask the opponents: Why are you against then?"

The Prime Minister is not too worried that the latest polls show a slight majority for the "no" camp. "I have great confidence in the Dutch people." he said. "This referendum is about an association agreement that is of great interest to the Netherlands. Stability on the edge of Europe in an unstable world. The treat is really important and so I have great confidence in the outcome of the referendum."

He explained why the agreement is good for the Netherlands. "Europe is prosperous, but at the edges it is unstable. There are large migration flows, there is terrorism. It is in our interest that there is stability on the edges. And the agreement ensures that, because it helps to build a rule of law, develop democracy and fight corruption", Rutte said. "And we strengthen the economy there through free trade. That is very much in Dutch interest. There are already 250 Dutch companies operating in the Ukraine. And because we trade there that ensures jobs in the Netherlands."