Europe rejects Dutch PM's plan on Ukraine referendum

Prime Minister Mark Rutte got little support from the European leaders on his plan on how to deal with the Netherlands voting no in a referendum on an association agreement between the EU and Ukraine. His suggestion for a legally binding statement that will put the no-voters' concerns at ease, got a lukewarm reception at best, the Volkskrant reports. 

During a brief explanation of his plan, Rutte told his European colleagues that he is politically stuck. He plainly stated that he currently sees little chance in The Hague for he association agreement to be ratified. He contacted all key players in the EU and the Ukraine numerous times to discuss the matter. Bu so far he has not been able to come up with a proposal that will be accepted in the Dutch Senate and lower house of parliament, he said according to the newspaper.

According to the Volkskrant's sources, Croatia and the Czech Republic rejected the idea of a legally binding statement outright. Others showed understanding for Rutte's position, but was hesitant to give him support in the absence of a detailed proposal.

Afterwards Rutte stated that he will continue to try to find a proposal that is acceptable to everyone. According to him, geopolitical interest - curbing Russian influence in Ukraine - is forcing him to "go to extremes" in this matter.

He pointed out the massive consequences the Netherlands not ratifying the agreement ay have. "The association agreement can not be dissociated from the instability in the Russia/Ukraine region", Rutte said. "I want to avoid a Dutch decision negatively impacting stability in the region."

But on the other hand Rutte has to respect the Dutch voters' decision to vote no against the agreement. Their concerns must be eased. "The voter should not feel that they bought a pig in a poke." Rutte said. He will therefore continue to work, even though time is running out for the November 1st deadline set by parliament. "When the stakes are high, then it is the responsibility - perhaps even duty - of the Cabinet to go to extremes in order to align domestic and foreign interests."