Dutch referendum on Ukraine-EU treaty too close to call: Kyiv Post

14:00, 31 March 2016
Politics
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With a week left to the April 6 referendum in the Netherlands on approval of Ukraine's Association Agreement with the European Union, the "yes" and "no" camps are running neck-and-neck, according to the Kyiv Post.

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A recent poll commissioned by the Dutch Foreign Ministry found public opinion evenly split, Dutch newspaper AlgemeenDagblad reported on March 26, the Kyiv Post reports.

Previous polls have put the "no" camp firmly in the lead, so the latest poll will encourage Dutch supporters of Ukraine, as well as the numerous Ukrainian artists, politicians and activists who have been campaigning for the "yes" side, Veronika Melkozerova from the Kyiv Post wrote in her article titled "Dutch referendum on Ukraine-EU treaty too close to call" published on March 30.

To win over Dutch voters, Ukrainian activists and officials have organized several information campaigns, a business forum, a cinema festival and even a bike ride in the Netherlands, which are to be held in late March and at the beginning of April.

The goals of the events are all the same: to show the Dutch that Ukraine is a modern, independent and promising state that deserves to be part of the European Union, organizers say.

To raise public awareness of the issue, Bloc of Petro Poroshenko lawmaker Svitlana Zalishchuk and the Chesno civic activist Taras Shevchenko took part in a public discussion on March 30 with Dutch supporters of Ukraine in the Netherlands – the Dutch politician Kees Verhoeven of the D66 political party and political analyst Tony Van der Togt. The discussion was held in the Dutch city The Hague.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian film director Hanka Tretyak has shot 17 videos featuring short interviews with people who have lived both in Ukraine and the Netherlands. Tretyak's videos will be shown in the Netherlands as a part of Like.U informational campaign.

StratcomUA specialists and the Ukrainian diaspora in Holland have created several information and entertainment websites for Dutch voters, such as likeu.org.ua/ and oekraine-referendum.nl

As well as websites and public discussions, "yes" campaigners are using the cinema to bolster their cause – Ukrainian producer Dennis Ivanov opened the "Ukraine on Film: Way to Freedom" film festival on March 30.

Ukraine's top officials are also pitching in: Ukrainian Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko, Agriculture Minister Oleksiy Pavlenko, Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration Dmytro Shymkiv, and Deputy Economy Minister Nataliia Mykolska attended the Ukraine-Netherlands Business Forum in the city Nootdorp on March 30.

Read alsoDutch PM believes Ukraine-EU Association to win majority in referendumAt the event, the officials discussed the benefits of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement with Dutch businessmen and politicians.

But even as the date of the referendum draws closer, the consequences of a "no" vote are not any clearer.

Read alsoJaresko calls her ministry letter on Dutch referendum 'poorly faked'According to Dutch law, a valid (more than 30% turnout) "no" vote will mean that the Dutch government has to "reconsider" the issue of the ratification of the EU-Ukraine agreement. That doesn't mean the government is obliged to put the ratification of the agreement to the vote again, according to experts, but politicians will be under pressure to take public opinion into account, especially with elections coming up in the Netherlands.

Read also#DutchInUA: "People should understand, ‘No-vote' would mean support for Putin"And if the Dutch parliament blocks the full ratification of the treaty, that would hand a victory to Russia, and cause upheaval in Europe, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said in an interview with Dutch daily newspaper Handelsblad in January.

"I don't believe the Dutch will say no, because it would open the door to a big continental crisis," Juncker said.

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