Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte, who currently holds the EU presidency, told press in Amsterdam on Thursday (7 January) the pact is good for Europe and good for the Netherlands, Censor.NET reports citing EUobserver.
"I'll be out there and I'll be explaining to people why we signed this agreement … We are a trading nation. We live by free trade agreements and Ukraine is another example of this," he said.
"People who are inclined to vote No think it's a first step to EU membership. It has nothing to do with accession," he added.
Rutte said the whole government backs the Ukraine treaty.
His foreign minister, Bert Koenders, from the pro-EU PvdA party, said it serves Dutch security interests, by helping to stabilise the EU's eastern neighbourhood, and that it's "important for both our [Dutch and Ukrainian] economies."
The referendum, to take place on April 6 following a petition organised by civil society, is non-binding. The treaty was ratified by Dutch MPs and promulgated by the Dutch King last year. It also entered into force Jan. 1.
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