17:23 Oct. 21, 2016
Investigation into the crash and Dutch ‘no' to the treaty must not be linked, says PM Rutte
The Netherlands are disgruntled over the latest remarks by Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko who had linked the Dutch-led MH17 plane crash investigation to the country's rejection of Ukraine-EU Association Agreement.
Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of the European parliament's European People's Party in the Dutch city of Maastricht, Poroshenko reportedly said the following:
"I gave the Netherlands the leading role in MH17 investigation. The Netherlands will set a dangerous precedent if they reject the treaty"
The statement prompted an instant reaction by the Dutch government.
According to the Telegraaf, Dutch prime minister dismissed the remark as "unwise" and said that the MH17 investigation and the aftermath of the Dutch-Ukraine referendum are absolutely unrelated.
"I ignore such statements," Rutte said after the European Council summit in Brussels. At the same time, he stressed that the ratification of the Association Agreement, according to him, is the best option.
"The rejection of the treaty would, in fact, create more instability in Ukraine," Rutte was quoted as saying by another Dutch edition – Elsevier.
Ukrainian observers do not exclude that mistranslation could have occurred, and in fact, the Ukrainian President did not link investigation of the air disaster with the ratification of Ukraine-EU treaty by the Dutch Parliament.
The activist of the Ukrainian community in the Netherlands Oleksandr Snidalov confirmed that Poroshenko's remark found resonance in the Dutch media, and was negatively perceived by both pro-Ukrainian activists and those with anti-Ukrainian sentiments.
"While activists of Ukrainian community in the Netherlands think about how civil society can encourage the government to make positive decision for Ukraine – attempts to put pressure can destroy any possibility of involvement of Dutch society to lobby for ratification of the agreement", Snidalov wrote on his Facebook page.
On 6 April Dutch voters rejected the European pact with Ukraine in a non-binding referendum making the Netherlands the only state of the 28-member bloc which failed to ratify the deal.
Prime Minister Rutte said he will continue to work, even though time is running out for the deadline set by parliament. He has pledged to report back to parliament on the official Dutch response to the referendum result by November 1.