Time running out on Ukraine referendum

The Dutch government is running out of time for finding a solution on what to do about ratifying the associatioin agreement between the European Union and Ukraine. The deadline is November 1st. And it doesn't seem likely that a decision will be made on Friday, NU.nl reports.

"Today and in the coming days we are considerably going to talk about it", Minsiter Bert Koenders said, according to NU. "We still have a few days. We'll try to find a solution to the last moment."

Prime Minister Mark Rutte failed to find support among the opposition parties for a compromise. The compromise entails still ratifying the treaty, but also addressing the concerns of the voter majority that voted against the treaty in the Ukraine referendum in April. 

The government wants a binding amendment added to the treaty which explicitly states that the treaty is not a prelude to EU membership for the Ukraine, that the Netherlands has the right to refrain from military cooperation and that extra monely will not be transferred to the east European country. 

Because the referendum ended in a "no" vote, the government has to pass this amendment through parliament and the senate. And the coalition of VVD and PvdA will need the support of opposition parties to do so. Especially in the senate, where the coalition does not have a majority.

According to NU, the CDA, D66, ChristenUnie and GroenLinks in principle could support the coalition - they are all in favor for cooperation with the Ukraine. But the CDA, GroenLinks and ChristenUnie all stated that the outcome of the referendum must be respected. 

Should the government manage to get their compromise through both parliament and the senate, they still need Brussels to approve the addendum. But there too Rutte found a lukewarm reception.

Earlier this week the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin warned of the geopolitical and administrative consequences if the Netherlands submits a repeal. This would damage the Netherlands' credibility as a reliable negotiating partner and reward Russian aggression, the minister said. 

He added that the war in eastern Ukraine is a direct consequence of the Ukrainians signing partnership with the EU. "Many Ukrainians gave their lives on Maidanplein for this convention, that the former president would not sign. They gave their lives for the dream of progress.", Klimkin said on Wednesday during a visit to the Netherlands, NU reports. 

All EU Member States and the Ukraine must ratify the treaty for it to be implemented. If the Netherlands does not sign, the treaty is scrapped.