Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Dutch Reject Ukraine

Geert Wilders/unkn. source
Islamaphobia on both sides of the Atlantic. Something about that hair....

Yesterday, more than 61 percent of voters in the Netherlands rejected the Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine.  Even though  27 of 28 EU states have ratified the Agreement, and the Dutch parliament supports it, this non-binding plebiscite will make it hard for the Dutch government to press ahead with ratification.

What does this portend for the British referendum on whether Britain should leave the EU ("Brexit"), coming up on June 23, 2016? David Cameron is urging the Brits to "stay!" The right wing UK Independence Party (UKIP) is campaigning hard for Brexit. The population is split.

The Association Agreement with Ukraine

This dates back to June 2014. The agreement set up a free trade area, and sought to provide support for core reforms in Ukraine. These reforms targeted the economy, good governance, education, justice, human rights, and consumer protections in Ukraine. The agreement provided for cooperation in areas of energy, transportation, environmental protection, industrial development. It did not provide for Ukraine membership in the EU, nor did it contemplate free movement of Ukrainians into the Schengen Area. Nevertheless, the agreement was designed to make Ukraine more like Europeans,  and to increase cooperation between the EU and Ukraine.

The negotiations ahead of the agreement provoked a strong reaction from Russia. In late 2013 Ukraine's then-president Viktor Yanukovich decided to back away from it. This lead to the EuroMaidan Revolution that ousted Yankukovich in February 2014... and then subsequently to the Russian annexation of Crimea on March 18, 2014, and civil war in the East of Ukraine.

Putin is cheering this Dutch rejection of the agreement in the wings. Destruction of the European project is his aim. The Dutch right, in rejecting the Association Agreement, are manifesting European narcissism playing into the hands of Russian nihilism... as Timothy Snyder put it in an essay last year.

I will have more on Timothy Snyder on Ukraine shortly.

In the meantime for  a primer on Ukraine see my posts HERE (pre-Sochi Olympics), and HERE (post Russian annexation of Crimea), and a report on George Soros's positive view HERE.

Follow me on Twitter @RolandNikles

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