Dutch voters gear up for poll on key EU-Kiev deal

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THE HAGUE: Dutch voters are gearing up to make their voices heard on a key European cooperation deal with Ukraine, in a referendum next week organised by eurosceptic groups and seen as a proxy poll on EU ties. But after a low-key campaign, many of the country’s 12.5 million eligible voters still say they are puzzled by what exactly they are voting for in Wednesday’s poll, only the second since 2005 on European Union issues. In an added twist, observers say the referendum’s non-binding outcome is more important to Ukraine, where a pro-EU revolution ousted Kiev’s Russian-backed leadership in 2014 and has made active moves to cosy up to the West. Dutch organisers last week admitted the vote on the so-called EU Association Agreement — which mainly bolsters trade with Kiev — is essentially not about Ukraine, but a handy platform to push a broader anti-EU agenda and “give citizens more say in Brussels.”

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