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Dutch Government Seeks More Time On Ukraine-EU Treaty Impasse

Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders (file photo)
Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders (file photo)

The Dutch government is seeking up to six more weeks to broker a complex deal to prevent the Netherlands withdrawing its support for a partnership agreement between the EU and Ukraine.

Foreign Minister Bert Koenders said in a letter to parliament on October 31 that the government needs more time to negotiate a "legally binding" deal that would be acceptable to the 27 other EU countries while honoring the Netherlands' recent popular referendum that rejected Brussel's association treaty with Kyiv.

Koenders said the government would now aim to reach an agreement between opposition parties, other EU governments and Ukraine, by December 15.

In the April popular referendum, nearly two-thirds of Dutch voters said "No" to the EU's association treaty on closer political, military, and trade relations with Ukraine -- and the Netherlands is the only EU state not to have ratified it.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who does not want the agreement to be rejected, had agreed to inform parliament of the government's plan for dealing with the results of the non-binding vote by November 1.

The EU on October 31 welcomed the Dutch government's efforts to find a solution to the impasse.

"We appreciate the work the government of the Netherlands is doing to find a solution to ratify the agreement," said Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman for the EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and RFE/RL correspondent Rikard Jozwiak

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