Saturday 22 January 2022

Opposition tight-lipped on talks to end Ukraine referendum impasse

Ukraine Netherlands  Sign Flags ConceptPrime minister Mark Rutte has held talks with a select group of opposition leaders on how to act on the ‘no’ vote in last April’s referendum on Ukraine.

The rejection of the EU’s proposed accession treaty with the former Soviet state was non-binding, but Rutte promised to ‘do justice’ to the outcome. Parliament has asked the cabinet to provide a response before November 1.

On Monday the prime minister invited party leaders including Alexander Pechtold (D66) and Sybrand Buma (Christian Democrat) to talks in his official office on how to reflect the vote in the government’s stance. All 28 EU member states are supposed to ratify the treaty, but Rutte has admitted that the other countries will press ahead regardless of whether the Netherlands signs.

Pechtold refused to disclose any details of the discussion as he left the prime minister’s office on Monday morning. ‘I’ve been informed, that’s all I want to say about it,’ he told reporters. Buma was equally tight-lipped: ‘I came here to listen to Rutte,’ he said.

Geert Wilders and socialist leader Emile Roemer were among the leaders absent from the talks. Their parties say the government must observe the result of the referendum in full and withhold the Netherlands’ signature.

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