Ukraine blame game erupts over outcome of Dutch referendum

The Ukrainian president is sticking to the course he’s been steering toward the EU, yet some critics blame him for the results of a Dutch referendum in which a majority of voters rejected the EU-Ukraine accord.

Predictable though it may have been, one might have “hoped for better results,” said Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin Thursday in Japan, where he’s currently accompanying President Petro Poroshenko on an official visit. Just a few days ago, Klimkin was on a media tour through cities across the Netherlands campaigning for a yes vote on the Dutch referendum regarding the EU-Ukraine association agreement.

The results that came in late Wednesday night were devastating for Ukraine. A clear majority of the vote (61 percent) voted against the accord, which proposed the development of a free trade zone and has already been ratified by all EU member states, including the Netherlands. At just about one-third of eligible voters taking part, the number of votes taken was just a hair above the minimum required for validity.

At first, the president criticized the vote as an “attack on European unity.” He made reference to euroskeptic initiatives forcing the referendum and said that the vote was not legally binding. “I am certain that these results will not strategically hinder the path for Ukraine toward Europe,” said Poroshenko. The treaty, which was signed in 2014 and parts of which have been in place since the beginning of 2016, would continue to be implemented in Ukraine.

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