THE HAGUE, April 5 /TASS/. Many Dutch cannot understand why a referendum on ratification of the association agreement between the European Union and Ukraine is so important and have no idea what consequences the vote may have, a series of public opinion polls suggest.
The referendum is to take place on Wednesday, April 6. Therefore, Tuesday is an electoral silence day, and all campaigning and propaganda activities are forbidden. That, however, is not a hindrance to research centers. Without naming the population’s preferences directly, these organizations are bypassing the ban by holding opinion polls on themes, which are linked to tomorrow’s referendum this way or another.
For example, a survey carried out by the Ipsos center has revealed that 46% of the country’s population is convinced that the association agreement is the first step on the path towards Ukraine’s EU membership. About 17% of the Dutch replied that it was not so. The remaining 37% hesitated to give any answer.
Experts, however, believe that the political part of the 400-page association agreement is more than just an ordinary trade agreement and looks very much like an agreement on stabilization and association, which the European Union signs with all candidate states.
Another survey ordered by the Dutch TV and Radio Broadcasting Corporation shows that only half of the Dutch population consider the question of ratification of the association agreement between the European Union and Ukraine to be important enough for a national referendum. Another 16% disagree with that view while 34% of the population hesitated to give any answer.
The referendum will take place on April 6. Its results will be advisory and not mandatory for implementation by the Dutch government.
Nevertheless, in case of a "no" vote and if the referendum is considered to be valid, the authorities will have to take its results into account. The only question for the Wednesday referendum is "Are you for or against the ratification of the association agreement between the EU and Ukraine?"
A group of EU countries, including the Baltic States, Poland, Britain and Sweden, want to see Ukraine as a full EU member in future. But a second group of countries consisting of France, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and Austria is opposed to the idea and have never given any promises of full EU membership to Ukraine.
Last week, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in an interview with the NU.nl information portal that his country was also against the EU membership for Ukraine.
According to him, it is important that Ukraine eventually has good relationship with both the EU and Russia, and that is unlikely to happen if Ukraine becomes an EU member.