Whitewash on Ukraine treaty cheats voters

16 December 2016

Whitewash on Ukraine treaty cheats voters

Foto: SP

With his deal on the European Union’s Association Agreement with Ukraine, Prime Minister Mark Rutte is cheating those who voted to reject the treaty at the referendum on April 6th. “This deal is a shameless whitewash,” says SP Member of Parliament Jasper van Dijk. “The voters gave a crystal clear result at the referendum. They said ‘No’ to the Association Agreement. The only correct option was therefore to reject the treaty.”

Instead of withdrawing the Association Agreement, Rutte chose to play the trick of a ‘legally-binding declaration’ as a concession to the electorate. “This annex, a sort of list of operating instructions, is clearly no more than a confirmation of the existing treaty,” says Van Dijk. “Its legal worth has been called into question by countless experts. This is doubly true in this case, given that Ukraine isn’t even required to sign it. EU membership is therefore certainly not removed as a possibility, as Rutte claims. The declaration’s other points also – no money to Ukraine, no military support, more commitment to the fight against corruption – carry no weight.”

Whether Rutte’s deal will garner the necessary majority in the Senate depends on the centre-right opposition party the CDA (Christian Democrats). This party has always insisted that, in view of the referendum result, Rutte must withdraw his agreement to the treaty, but it remains unclear whether the Christian Democrats will hold to this line. The centre-left Labour Party will most probably join its partners in government in endorsing the Association Agreement, as will the opposition liberals of D66, even though in both cases this would represent an enormous turnaround. At the time of the referendum they expressed the same view as the SP: No means No. 

Van Dijk concludes that Rutte, together with the parties which are supporting him, will provoke huge cynicism. “The legally-binding declaration means nothing. The voters are being swindled. That’s what happened in 2005 with the referendum on the European Constitution. Rutte is losing his credibility by saying ‘No means no - just not this time’.’” 

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