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    Ukrainian students hold a EU flag with a sign reading A pedagogical university, as they stand in a live chain in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, April 5, 2016. Ukrainian students gathered in Kiev to back Ukraine's cause on the eve of a Dutch referendum on an association deal between Ukraine and the EU

    Yes-Vote on EU-Ukraine Cooperation Has no Advantage for Dutch, EU Economies

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    A Yes-vote in the Dutch referendum on the EU-Ukraine association deal, taking place on Wednesday, would not benefit the region or the Netherlands economically, a member of the European Parliament from the Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV), Auke Zijlstra, told Sputnik.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) An advisory referendum is taking place in the Netherlands on Ukraine’s association agreement with the European Union. In order for the results of the referendum to be taken into account by the Dutch parliament, more than 30 percent of the Dutch public must vote.

    "I hope for the No campaign to win. The treaty does not bring economic advantages to the region, nor to the Netherlands", the lawmaker told Sputnik.

    He added that he does not see the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement as a first step toward Ukraine's membership of the bloc, as the Eastern European country is not ready for such scenario yet.

    "Contrary to the opinion of the other political parties and my government, I do see it as a first step towards membership of the EU. The EU cannot cope with the crises it created, refugees, negative interest rates, dwindling economies, let alone can it cope with yet another member that isn't ready," the lawmaker said.

    Zijlstra stressed the importance of the ongoing event, the first consultative referendum in the Netherlands since the 2005 vote on the ratification of a proposed EU constitution, the outcome of which was ignored by the government.

    "The public fears that the outcome will once again be ignored. That would be a blow to our democracy. A democracy that is already under pressure from the way the referendum is organised," the parliamentarian said.

    Zijlstra explained that the authorities did not set up enough polling stations, while the public broadcasting on the subject was "unbalanced." Moreover, the ballot is not clear, opening the door for voters to have their votes declared invalid.

    The EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, establishing a political and economic association between Kiev and Brussels, was signed in 2014. Dutch government decided to hold a non-binding referendum after over 400,000 people signed a petition to put the matter to a nationwide vote. The latest opinion polls indicate over half of Dutch voters are leaning toward voting against the agreement.

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