|Ukraine Referendum: EU needs an independent foreign policy|
Sixty-one percent voted against the Netherlands ratifying the treaty, which would strengthen economic and political ties between the 28-nation bloc and Kiev, an exit poll conducted by the Ipsos center shows. Some 38 percent of the voters supported the move, the exit poll has shown.
If the turnout surpasses the 30 percent threshold, making the “no” vote valid, the government will reconsider ratifying the treaty, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said.
"It's clear that 'No' have won by an overwhelming margin, the question is only if turnout is sufficient," Rutte stated. "If the turnout is above 30 percent with such a large margin of victory for the 'No' camp then my sense is that ratification can't simply go ahead."
Ukraine’s foreign ministry announced that it is examining the results of the referendum, but pointed out that it was a non-binding expression of public opinion and that it will wait for the Netherlands’ final decision on ratification of the EU-Ukraine deal.
“We are counting on the decision to be in the interests of Ukraine, the Netherlands and Europe,” Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mariana Betsa stated.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian opposition said that the results of the referendum represent disappointment with the Ukrainian government.
“This is like a cold shower for the Ukrainian politicians who believe that loud shouting and wild hopping is more important than efficient work,” Aleksander Vilkul, a leader of the Opposition Bloc Party, said. “This is an assessment to those who think that no one will notice excessive corruption.”
Although Rutte promised that a valid “no” vote would not go ignored, he said that the government would take its time in deciding exactly how to respond to the public’s opinion.
A political analyst in the Netherlands noted that this referendum result was not an Euroskeptic endorsement, as proclaimed by the right-wing Dutch anti-Islamist Geert Wilders, or a pro-Russian declaration, but rather an indication that the majority of Europeans are tired of being dragged into US political and diplomatic "escapades", be it in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, or elsewhere, and rather prefer to follow an independent foreign policy.