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Poroshenko Predicts Win In Dutch Vote On Ukraine Pact With EU

U.S. President Barack Obama greets Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington on April 1.
U.S. President Barack Obama greets Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington on April 1.

The United States has urged Dutch voters to approve Ukraine's cooperation agreement with the European Union in a referendum on April 4, even as Ukraine's president predicted victory.

"We're absolutely sure that European integration and the implementation of our Association Agreement will not be stopped," Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on April 1.

Poroshenko met with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington and afterward stressed the friendship between their countries.

He accused the Dutch anti-EU activists who demanded the referendum of exploiting the Ukraine question as part of an agenda to strike a blow against the EU. The cooperation deal with Ukraine puts Kyiv on a path toward eventual EU membership.

"The real purpose was an internal Dutch discussion about the future of the European Union and internal political clashes," Poroshenko said. "This is very dangerous -- that a 45-million-person country could become the victim of this."

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said that while it is up to Dutch voters to decide, "we believe that an Association Agreement is in the best interests of Ukraine, the Netherlands, and Europe."

The agreement "is critical to ensuring that Ukraine's leaders continue to make the needed and important reforms that will contribute to a more peaceful, democratic, prosperous, and stable continent," she said.

Trudeau added that "it will provide new economic opportunities for the Netherlands, for Ukraine, and for Europe as a whole."

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker last month sought to assure Dutch voters who oppose further expansion of the EU after years of incorporating other Eastern European states that he doesn't expect Ukraine to join the EU for another 25 years.

He has warned that a rejection of the treaty by Dutch voters could lead to a "continental crisis."

Earlier in the day, Poroshenko met with U.S. President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the summit and the two discussed the prospects for creating a new governing coalition in Ukraine.

Poroshenko has sought to assure U.S. leaders as he made the rounds in Washington that he is close to getting an agreement with other parties to form a new coalition, despite a failed attempt at doing so earlier this week.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and TASS
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