More than a month from now we (the Dutch) can (I must) go to the polls for the referendum on the association agreement with Ukraine. I recently read an article about it by Syp Wynia in Elsevier (Dutch newspaper): Association Agreement: Why ‘yes’ in a referendum is better than ‘no’.
As usuall a good article by Syp but I don’t agree with his final conclusion (below).
‘But to vote against almost the only perspective on improvement the Ukrainians have, well that goes a bit to far for me. Moreover, it is true, of course: a more stable and prosperous Ukraine – should it come to that – that certainly is also a Dutch interest’.
Of course, I want ordinary Ukrainians to have stability, prosperity and above all peace, but for me that’s not an argument at this time to vote ‘yes’. So I will vote ‘NO’.
Let me explain why, making use of a few quotes from the article by Syp.
I recommend to read the whole article Syp wrote (it’s in Dutch so use Google Translate if you want).
Origins of the situation in Ukraine
What Syp writes about the origins of the misery in Ukraine at this time is, I think, a too easy (mis)representation of facts.
‘Putin wanted to keep Ukraine within his own sphere of influence and in the ‘Eurasian Union’. The protests against Yanukovych’s capitulation to Putin led in February 2014 to the fall of the president. There was a Ukrainian interim government and then a newly elected president, Petro Poroshenko’.
The way in which Yanukovych’s was brought down was a dirty action. A particularly by the US orchestrated coup (regime change is a “trademark” of the US) brought him down. Earlier I wrote about the dubious role of the US in the world (here) with a reference to this article about the regime change. The following quote from that article.
‘Furthermore, in the other key documentary source on this overthrow, which is the phone-conversation between U.S. President Barack Obama’s two chief operatives who arranged the overthrow, a conversation that occurred 18 days before the overthrow, Victoria Nuland instructed Geoffrey Pyatt to have Arseniy Yatsenyuk appointed to lead the junta-regime that would become installed when the coup was completed. Everyone should hear that conversation; it is massively important, in a historical sense, especially because it proves that this was a coup and not anything of a democratic nature — it proves that Western goverments and press have been lying through their rotten teeth about this being some sort of victory for ‘democracy,’ when in fact it was the exact opposite of that’.
Here a part about the rampant EU expansion.
‘The European Union sees expansion as the most powerful instrument of its foreign policy. This is also the biggest weakness. The Union holds up the juicy bone of becoming a member of the EU. So foreign policy becomes domestic policy. The neighbor is now also decisionmaker at the EU table. This questionable method could be, in itself, a good subject for a referendum’.
In addition to this juicy bone there is a much more serious problem. The relationship with Russia and the historical sensitivities that go along with it. With the colaps of the Soviet Union it appears commitments (info here, here and here) were made not to expand NATO eastwards. Even though there are different interpretations of what is or was not agreed, a child understands that the expansion, of both NATO and the EU, since that time seriously conflicts with the, how shall I call it, expectations of the Russians. The driving force behind these expansions is, in my view, mainly the USA, having a very dubious agenda towards Russia. A widely quoted statement from 1992 by Paul Wolfowitz (then deputy minister of defense) is ‘It is our priority to avoid the rise of a new rival on the former territory of the Soviet Union or elsewhere’. The so-called Wolfowitz doctrine is further explained here in Dutch (check here for English versions). A quote from it:
‘The Wolfowitz Doctrine was the US response to the colaps of the Soviet Union in 1992, making the US the only remaining superpower on the world stage. The doctrine suggests, bluntly, that the US must do everything to keep it that way’.
And indeed, the US apparently do anything to maintain their dominance. Which, among other things, explains the US-orchestrated regime change in Ukraine. Not to help the ordinary Ukrainians but to frustrate, further isolate and economically break down Russia (a.o. sanctions and low oil prices).
Would it not be much better if the EU right now seeks rapprochement with Russia in order to get the pressure off in Ukraine? A first step to stop this terrible civil war could be put in motion, instead of further fueling the fire with a so-called ‘trade treaty’? Obama and his friends would obviously not find that rapprochement very nice because they love to create a new enemy when it comes to Russia. But, as we say in Holland, I would rather have Russia as a good neighbor much, much more than the US as a distant criminal ‘friend’.
With the foregoing, I have already answered the question in the following quotation from Syp.
‘Opponents of the association agreement argue that it is unnecessarily stepping on sensitive Russian toes and therefor there will be no peace or stability, but instead the growing risk of war. But should the Dutch voters for that reason vote ‘no’? Is it really so that the West, in this case the EU, should not regarde Ukraine as a sovereign country?’
So indeed, for that reason say NO. And yes, Ukraine is a sovereign country but a country in civil war. Let’s (EU, Ukraine and Russia) first of all solve that problem (yes you got that right, I prefer to do that without the power- and war-hungry US).
In case of a NO, the Dutch government will still ratify the association agreement
I have no doubt that they will. We know Mark (Dutch PM) and ‘our’politicians by now. Think back to the 2005 referendum, the empty promises of the past few years and the resistance to the forthcoming referendum.
‘Prime Minister Mark Rutte (VVD) has said that the government will mainly be guided by the referendum debate and the applied arguments and – obviously – less by the results of the votes. Rutte smartly anticipates for a government decision to also ratify the agreement with Ukraine in case of a valid and dismissive referendum. During future elections a part of the electorate will not appreciate that, but it is a possible scenario’.
Ignoring a NO will further expose them and we will be pretty sure that we don’t have to expect much more from them in terms of democracy. If we want to preserve democracy (actually recover it), then we will have to punish them with the March 2017 elections.
For now it is necessary that we at least reach the turnout threshold of 30% (preferably much more) and of course a majority ‘NO’ vote.
So my appeal to all the Dutch people, in any case cast your vote!
Weighing FOR and AGAINST arguments
Finally Syp weighs a number of arguments for and against the treaty. Two of them I have already, more or less, talked about ( ‘No will help Putin’ and ‘Import of war’). On one point ‘Good for business’ a last short statement.
‘The removal of barriers to trade and investment is also good for foreigners to do business in Ukraine, in particular for EU operators’.
Partly because of the American intervention it will indeed be good for multinationals. An example is the (disputed) extraction of shale gas and the role (info in Dutch here and here) of the US. Will there be benefits for ordinary Ukrainians? Given the corruption, I doubt it.
So, I am gonna vote