Embassy statement regarding the decision to hold a consultative referendum in the Netherlands on the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement ratification, announced today.
We would not be honest if we said that the question of ratification of Ukraine-EU Association Agreement by the Netherlands becoming target of a campaign to conduct a consultative referendum, was not a disappointment for us, as well as, we are sure, for many Ukrainians, who have long been dreaming of building a deeper connection with Europe.
However, we appreciate the Dutch people's wish to bring the question to a public democratic discussion by means of the referendum and see our role in sharing as much information as we have through different communication channels on how the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement will benefit not only Ukraine, but the EU and the Netherlands as well, thus contributing to the public making a well informed decision.
That also includes the rebuttal of a number of incorrect claims about the Agreement, which may contribute to a distorted perception of it and have neither a reflection in its text, nor in its spirit and true intention.
To name a few, such is the claim that the Agreement is a sign of expansion of the EU and guarantees Ukraine's EU membership, which is not correct not only because it is never mentioned in the Agreement text itself, but, more importantly, because there is no causal link between an EU Association Agreement and EU membership, as the example of EU Association Agreements with many countries around the globe shows.
Instead, by means of the Agreement the Parties have an opportunity to work closely together for the common benefit and development in multiple areas, such as political dialogue, the rule of law and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, fighting against crime and corruption, fighting terrorism, open market and trade in goods and services, energy, environment, transport, space, science and technology, industrial and enterprise policy, and many more.
Such is the claim that the Association Agreement provides for an obligation of the EU to drastically increase financial support to Ukraine thus putting an additional burden on the Member-States' budgets, because absolutely no mention of such an obligation can be found in the Agreement text, but also because the EU has been providing Ukraine with some technical financial assistance for a long time now through a number of programs, not related to the actual signing and ratification of the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement.
Instead, by means of the Agreement the EU gets additional instruments to supervise the use of assistance it already provides to Ukraine. More so, Ukraine gets more opportunities to participate in the EU programs and agencies and shall even contribute financially to the general budget of the Union corresponding to the specific programs it participates in.
Such is the claim that the Agreement allows for a visa-free unrestricted migration of Ukrainian citizens to the EU countries and their unlimited stay and employment there. Not only because the Agreement specifically stets a quite different time frame for that, namely that “The Parties shall take gradual steps towards a visa-free regime in due course, provided that the conditions for well-managed and secure mobility, set out in the two-phase Action Plan on Visa Liberalization presented at the EU-Ukraine Summit of 22 November 2010, are in place”, but also because Ukraine-EU visa-free dialogue that long preceded the Association Agreement and is not completed by it at that stage does not mention the possibility of employment or indefinite stay in Europe for Ukrainians.
Instead, Ukrainian citizens will have an opportunity to travel across Europe with less bureaucratic hindrance, explore their neighbors' culture traditions and history, build people-to-people ties, learn from their experience and share ideas, just as our European neighbors have been able to travel to Ukraine since our cancellation of visa requirements for the EU citizens in 2005.
Such is also the claim that the Association Agreement brings about geopolitical instability, because the Agreement, as said countless times before, does not specifically mention any particular third parties in any context and therefore cannot be reasonably perceived as the one aimed against such third parties.
What it really represents is a pro-democratic, pro-rule of law, pro-freedom, pro-development and pro-civilized life choice of a 40+ million strong European nation. If third parties do perceive it in some other way, it is a really good reason to think, whether it is really the Association Agreement that is the problem here.
Instead, the Parties have an opportunity to cooperate as closely, as never before to jointly address regional and global challenges of today and promote security and stability in Europe by means of building a strong, reliable, democratic, progressive, independent Ukraine, out of the thriving and cooperation of which the EU and the Netherlands can only benefit.