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Dutch PM says he may agree to revoke support for EU-Ukraine treaty

Netherlands' Prime Minister Mark Rutte arrives at the EU summit in Brussels, Belgium October 21, 2016

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Friday said his government may submit a bill revoking his country’s support for the treaty establishing closer ties between the European Union and Ukraine.

Rutte has said rejection of the association agreement would be a mistake and would weaken European unity, but that if efforts to find a compromise failed at the weekend, he would have no choice.

The Netherlands is the only EU state not to have ratified the bloc’s agreement on closer political, security and trade ties with Kiev following a referendum in April in which the Dutch voted overwhelmingly to reject it.

Rutte wants to find a compromise between Ukraine, the EU and domestic opposition parties that will enable the treaty to be implemented and respect the outcome of the referendum.

The agreement with Kiev, reached after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014 and then backed rebels fighting government troops in the east of the country, is being provisionally implemented now, but its future hinges on the Netherlands.

Dutch rejection “would cause great damage and I need to do everything to bring that view across and to convince the parties still not convinced,” he said.

“This is larger than the Netherlands alone. We are part of a broader international community acting as one front for stability on our borders and against aggression,” Rutte told journalists at a weekly briefing.

Rutte in June sought “legally binding” assurances from EU leaders to address his country’s concerns over the deal.

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