Statement by former Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov on the Dutch Referendum regarding the EU-Association Agreement with Ukraine
The results of the Dutch referendum are of deep concern to me, it is a serious blow to our country’s reputation and future prospects.
I know, that the Netherlands were and are a close friend of Ukraine. The Dutch people and its governments were always supporting my country. Therefore, yesterday’s vote against a closer EU-cooperation with Ukraine is a setback, for my country and for the European Union.
Ukraine remembers very well that it was the Netherlands advocating on behalf of our country’s interests at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in a period, when Ukraine was going through its most difficult times. It was former Dutch Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm traveling to London, Paris and Berlin after consultations with my government, in order to ensure a needed loan by the IMF. The people of Ukraine will never forget those efforts.
During my last recent visit to The Hague back in 2013 and my meeting with Prime Minister Rutte, trade chambers and businessmen, deepening the relations of our countries, I felt that the Netherlands were a true and reliable partner for Ukraine.
So what has changed since then? If a similar referendum would take place in Germany, France or some other EU member states, I am sure the vote would be the same.
I spent two years working hard on preparing the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement together with our partners in Brussels. Most of the already prepared
and finalized parts would have been a milestone for Ukraine and for our cooperation with the European Union.
But there were also topics, which in fact were responsible for Ukraine’s decision to postpone the signing of the agreement. The most important obstacle was the EU-attitude at that time, trying to force us to choose between Europe and Russia. Such a decision - pro EU - would have been a suicidal choice for us. A confrontation with Russia is a dead-end street for our country and for Europe itself. In fact my government used to be well aware of the truth, that is why we were seeking for a true and reliable compromise.
The current government in Kiev is permanently pushing for a conflict, being blind for the damage it causes for Ukraine, for greater Europe. With its attitude of a one-sided policy, ruining the economy, filling its own pockets through corruption, opening offshore bank accounts while people at home are dying, ignoring the interests of the Ukrainian people, the government has no more trust at home, but also not abroad. The EU-citizens are well aware of that. Yesterday’s referendum is the proof.