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7 November 2016

The new declaration as a possible variant of coordinating the position of the EU with the Netherlands

Oleksiy Haran, Academic Director, Democratic Initiatives Foundation and Professor of Political Science, Kyiv Mohyla Academy

To secure Dutch ratification of the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement the sides consider as one of the variant approval of an additional declaration. It would be noted that this association will not be the first step towards full-fledged membership of Ukraine in the EU.

Oleksiy Haran, Academic Director, Democratic Initiatives Foundation and Professor of Political Science, Kyiv Mohyla Academy in an interview on Hromadske Radio (Public Radio) noted that such a declaration could be a variant to coordinating the position of the European Union with the Netherlands regarding the Ukraine-European Union Association Agreement.

Oleksiy Haran: All countries of the European Union, including the Netherlands, ratified the agreement. But the Netherlands did not manage to convey the ratification charter and here there was truly a clash as a consultative referendum was conducted that raised the issue of the Netherlands reviewing this process.

Yevhen Pavlyukovskiy: How do you assess the idea of drafting such an additional agreement?

Oleksiy Haran: This is not an additional agreement, rather a declaration. If it is in the variant of a declaration, it is a painless solution to this problem. The difference is that an additional agreement requires ratification by all countries. If it is a declaration, it will simply be approved at the level of heads of countries of the European Union at their summit and will remain in the package of documents with the agreement on association in effect.

Natalya Sokolenko: Is it known what the reaction in the Netherlands will be to the attempt of the European community and Ukraine and the government of the Netherlands to pull out of such a complicated situation?

Oleksiy Haran: The government of the Netherlands could ignore the aforementioned consultative referendum. The problem is that the country is entering the period of the pre=election race. In truth, the Dutch people were little concerned about this agreement, which is why the turnout at the referendum was only 30% of the population. For this reason I believe that their government wants to tell its citizens: we heard your voice, you expressed certain warnings and we approved the declaration together with all EU member countries  and we fixed those points that you wanted us to.

Yevhen Pavlyukovskiy: So this is a certain compromise?
Oleksiy Haran: This is the same point that was in the agreement only a different diplomatic package will be drafted to it.  The Dutch people in truth does not know for certain what is in this agreement on association. The main arguments of its opponents were that Ukraine would become a member of the European Union and the EU would be forced to provide its military support and so on. In reality, there is nothing about that in the association agreement with the EU. Thus, the new declaration could be a symbolic step that tells skeptics in the Netherlands and society that we took into account your fears and reacted accordinglyt. For us the main thing is that this agreement is not changed. I once again emphasize that if this solution to the problem the Dutch created themselves is agreed to this will be the best for us and will not have some legal repercussions.

Yevhen Pavlyyukovskiy: What can you say about the Russian lobby in the Netherlands? Might these forces be an obstacle to the new declaration?

Oleksiy Haran: First and foremost, the referendum in the Netherlands came about as a result of internal problems. In other words, we do not need to overestimate the Russian influence, though the Kremlin without a doubt exploited this factor and was behind the scenes of this campaign against the agreement on association with Ukraine. IF this form of declaration іs indeed chosen, the Kremlin will not have a chance to influence this process as this declaration will be signed at the level of heads of EU countries.

Original: Public Radio