Another Ukrainian scandal in Netherlands: Blackmail which didn't happen

Author : Oleksandr Snidalov

Source :

Answering the Dutch journalist's question, Poroshenko mentioned Ukrainian help during investigation of MH17 accident and connected it with Association Agreement
21:40, 24 October 2016

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On October 20, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko attended the summit of the European People's Party, held in Maastricht.

Answering the Dutch news agency NOS question, the president commented on the progress of ratification of the Netherlands Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU:

"We are effectively cooperating with the Netherlands. Starting with the investigation of terrorist attack on MH17. And it was my decision when I was entrusted the leading role in this case to the Dutch investigators, because the Netherlands as suffered the most of this catastrophe. And ending with visa regime and other European cooperation programs. In this situation, if ratification does not happen, I think it will be very dangerous precedent. We believe in the Netherlands, we are absolutely confident that everything will be fine. "

On the same day at the evening press conference on the results of first day of the European Council meeting in Brussels, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte got a question that concerns the statements of Ukrainian President.

According to the journalist, Poroshenko in his last statement mentioned the Ukrainian help during investigation of MH17 accident and connected it with the Association Agreement.

Journalist was interested in the opinion of the Dutch prime minister whether he endorses this approach. Rutte said the following: "No, I want to divide these two stories. MH17 is a separate and very important topic that should not be associated with the Association Agreement."

The next day, reaction to these two interview began to spread in Dutch press - materials on this topic were published by the half of national daily newspapers: the the biggest articles were published in De Telegraaf and AD, and also Trouw. In turn, Volkskrant, NRC and Het Parool refrained from coverage of the story.

De Telegraaf newspaper, which has a strong reputation of euro skeptic populist horn, responded one of the first. The tone of publication was pretty tough, but the link between MH17 and Association Agreement in a statement of Poroshenko was given as a fact.

The second newspaper by circulation, Algemeen Dagblad responded on Saturday in the comments section in color and very harsh. The attempt to link MH17 and Association Agreement was called shameful. Emotions were added by the thesis that "298 innocent victims - this is not a situation in which you can do politics."

Slightly less popular, but no less authoritative Trouw mentioned the incident in the news section, in  article on the progress of Rutte negotiations in Brussels, stating the facts: Rutte rejected the link between MH17 and Association Agreement; Poroshenko said that the agreement should be ratified because Ukraine gave the Netherlands the right to conduct investigations on MH17; Rutte called these words not wise, and noted that the issue of Association and MH17 should not be confused.

Comparison of the publications allows us to make some conclusions. Firstly, no Dutch newspaper responded directly to the statement of Poroshenko. All reactions were concerned with how PM Rutte commented on the statement of Ukrainian President.

That comment of Rutte based on the journalist's question, enabled the Dutch media claim that Ukrainian president tried to establish a link between MH17 and Association Agreement.

But in Poroshenko’s statement there was no direct connection of these themes. His statement is so general that leaves much room for interpretation. Not to say for sure, but it is possible that answering the questions of journalists, Prime Minister Rutte still had no information about the true meaning of the statements of Ukrainian president and, in fact, responded not to his statement, but to journalist’s  question.

Therefore now is very important the coordinated work of the press service of the Ukrainian president and the Foreign Ministry to explain and clarify the content of the Maastricht statement.

We still have some time for that – the new topic yet didn’t move from the pages of newspapers to the evening talk show studios, and part of the Dutch media still treat it with suspicion.

The story with founded in Ukraine stolen from Westfries Museum in Horn paintings demonstrated this very clearly - the return of the paintings to museum did not cause a tenth of that media reaction, which caused accusations of Ukraine concealing the pictures.

Related: Netherlands afraid of Ukraine's membership in EU, defense and financial cooperation, - source

Related: Ukraine's Parliament has to urge Netherlands to ratify AA with EU

Related: Ukraine-EU Association Agreement will act independently from decision of Netherlands,- Ambassador

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