Tuesday, April 05, 2016

In all our interests, hope the Dutch vote "Ja" tomorrow

There is a referendum tomorrow in Holland in which Dutch electors are being invited to vote on whether the EU's trade deal with Ukraine should be ratified.

Holland is the last country to ratify this deal. If the Dutch vote "Yes" it will go ahead. If they vote "No" and the deal is blocked it will be bad news for every EU country and a disaster for Ukraine.

One of the skills which the Putin administration in Russia has inherited from the former Soviet regime and indeed, improved on is the art of black propaganda. They spend a fortune on news channel disseminating propaganda in European countries. Sadly the number of "useful idiots" in the West who are prepared to believe Putin's lies is far higher than the proportion who fell for those of the Soviet Union and everyone who casts a "Nee" vote tomorrow will be falling for those lies.

The willingness to blame our own side for the disastrous results of Putin's power plays takes two forms. On the left you have the Corbynistas and other lefties who hate any attempt to defend our own civilisation, and NATO in particular, so much that they have fallen easy prey to Russian propaganda which seeks to blame NATO and the West for the regime change and war in Ukraine.

But there are also those on the right who hate the European Union so much that they will believe any charge against it, and those people have been quick to swallow propaganda blaming the EU for the crisis rather than putting the blame where it truly belongs - with Putin's government.

Neither NATO or the EU at any time sought regime change in the Ukraine or for the country to cut off trade with Russia. Indeed the best interest of all three would have been for Ukraine to act as a commercial bridge between Russia and the West.

It was Russia which blackmailed the previous Ukrainian government into cancelling the previous trade deal with the EU. This destabilised Ukraine and the resulting chaos led the Ukranian parliament to sack the government, but don't forget, it was a parliamentary vote which changed the government of Ukraine, not the army, and they promptly held new elections, so this was not some kind of undemocratic coup.

Russia then annexed a part of Ukraine despite having promised not to do anything of the kind when Ukraine gave up their nuclear weapons - congratulations Vladimir, you've probably guaranteed that no country with powerful neighbours will voluntarily surrender a nuclear arsenal ever again.

Not content with that, Putin encouraged people in the East of Ukraine to rebel and try to secede, and supplied them with weapons - including BUK ground to air missiles. The overwhelming weight of evidence suggests that such a missile, fired either by separatist rebels supported by Russia or actually by Russian personnel, brought down Malaysian airlines flight 17 in July 2014, killing all 298 innocent civilians on board. two thirds of whom - 193 men, women and children - were Dutch.

Having lost a lot of trade with Russia because of the war, the Ukranians were naturally all the more keen to sign a trade agreement with the EU. That agreement was signed and has been ratified by all the EU member states - except Holland. And a Eurosceptic group attempting to block the deal has managed to trigger a referendum on it in the Netherlands.

There have been a few comments in the Dutch media critical of Ukraine and expressing concern at the (very unlikely) prospect that approving the deal might give Ukraine a fast track to EU membership, but that is not what the people who called the referendum are really bothered about.

What horrifies me about this referendum is that the people concerned more or less openly admit that they called it as a means of protesting against the EU without caring that if they win and the treaty falls through it would severely damage Ukraine.

“The Ukraine vote is really about putting pressure on the Dutch relationship with Europe,” said Arjan van Dixhoorn, a history professor and one of the leaders of the eurosceptic Citizens’ Committee EU that pushed for the referendum. “We really don’t care about Ukraine, you need to understand that.”

In my humble opinion that is a grossly irresponsible attitude since Ukraine is trying to establish democracy and the rule of law in very difficult circumstances and having their economy shot to bits by people whose real target is the European Commission would be pretty unfair. It would also give a rather negative example of democracy in action when Eastern Europe is desperate need of some positive role models of democracy.

The treaty with the Ukraine would be good for Holland, Europe and Ukraine but blocking it would do far more damage to Ukraine than to the EU.

If anyone reading this is a Dutch elector who has not yet decided how to vote, how you cast your ballot is of course your decision but I would like you to consider this. The only people who will benefit if the Netherlands does not vote "Ja" tomorrow will be the people who blasted 193 innocent Dutch men, women and children out of the sky on that tragic day in July 2014.

No comments: