Kyiv Security Forum

In Kiev the Ukrainian and international experts discussed the results of the referendum in the Netherlands

14 April 2016, 12:28

Within the frameworks of the 9th Kyiv Security Forum, organized by Arseniy Yatsenyuk Open Ukraine Foundation in cooperation with, a discussion on “PROMOTION OF THE UKRAINIAN INTERESTS IN THE EU: WHAT DID WE LEARN FROM THE DUTCH REFERENDUM of the 6th APRIL 2016?” was held, where Ukrainian and international experts discussed the results of the Dutch referendum and their impact on further EU-Ukraine relations.

The moderator of the meeting was Olena Prystayko, the Executive Director of the Ukrainian Think Tank Liaison Office in Brussels.

In particular, as the representative of Ukrainian Crisis Media Center Natalia Popovych noted, the positive experience of informational support of the referendum in the Netherlands was the coordination of efforts and fruitful cooperation of all Ukrainian groups that worked on this issue. The gained experience of the referendum can be effectively applied to other countries with potential threats similar to those that were in the Netherlands.

At the same time, Ms. Natalia expressed her regret of the fact that the Ukrainian side had failed to hold a massive emotional campaign due to lack of resources: “The PR campaign was quite good, but we did not have the sufficient access to the Dutch TV to influence emotions of Dutch citizens more effectively”.

In his turn, her colleague from the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center Vasyl Miroshnychenko said that he was not surprised by the outcome of the referendum in the Netherlands: “Shortly before the referendum Dutch opinion polls were consistently giving negative forecasts for Ukraine”.

“The only thing that surprised me was the gap. For me, the correlation of 45 to 55 would mean victory, but in the end the gap was much larger”, – said V. Miroshnychenko.

The Director of the Institute of World Policy Alyona Getmanchuk described the analytical backing for the campaign in support of the Dutch referendum. In particular, she noted that before the referendum her organization conducted social polls in 6 EU countries, one of which was the Netherlands. The results showed that in this country people had too little knowledge of Ukraine and were the most skeptical about all its European ambitions. With this in mind, she said, it was obvious that the work on the referendum in the Netherlands would require great efforts from the Ukrainian side.

She also noted that one of the reasons for the negative results of the referendum in the Netherlands was that their think tanks did not want to launch the support campaigns for Ukraine, explaining that it could damage their reputation.

At the same time A. Getmanchuk added that to achieve positive results at such events as the Dutch referendum in the future, the Ukrainian side should make every effort to transform European “sovietologists” and “kremlinologists” into “ukrainologists” or to create the new ones. She believes this will allow throwing light upon the Ukrainian events in Europe not through the prism of Russia, like today, but in an objective way, using solely Ukrainian resources.

Summing up the discussion, the Representative of Ukraine to the Council of Europe Dmytro Kuleba said that the Dutch referendum results for Ukraine are not more than a reputational loss. In practical 

dimension, they will influence neither the Association of Ukraine with the EU, nor the visa free regime. He also stressed that the work on the mistakes over the “Dutch campaign” should certainly be carried out.


The annual international event Kyiv Security Forum launched by Arseniy Yatsenyuk Foundation Open Ukraine in 2007 is a platform for debate on the most pressing security issues in Europe and the Black Sea Region. 

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