A Graham Newsletter (#4) Brexit Reportage – Almost There!

Hello!

In the next newsletter, I’ll be sending you full stats and figures from what has been quite an amazing reportage trip, covering over 8000km, from Dundee to Graham Phillips LatviaDenmark, Latvia to London. Over 30 videos so far, approaching 750,000 hits, a major story in western press, not to mention a lot of coverage in the Russian, and Latvian media.

The purpose of beginning in Europe was to go out and show you some, perhaps new, things about the EU, then, come back and show the UK. As I was always completely open about, I supported a ‘Leave’ vote, but put that to one side to bring you completely objective reportage, as you can see from this latest, full report from Dundee, all sides represented –

And there have, of course, been videos right up to date – you can find them all here on my channel.

This Brexit reportage project hasn’t always easy. My car smashed into in Lille, France, things stolen, was a blow, and some other challenges along the way. But, I always knew that come what may, the project would be completed. The support people vested in my via crowdfunding – and this project was completely crowdfunded, the only source of income for it was crowdfunding – has been an immense source of inspiration.

To me, crowdfunding is not just money, finance, far from it – it’s the messages of support you write, it’s the engagement, interaction with you. It’s the knowing that this is being done for a reason, because someone believes in this project, wants it to exist, brings it to life. It’s the trust vested in me by those who are involved, that of all the things in the world you would choose to spend your money on my reportage. That’s a constant drive for me, to ensure that your decision to support me is vindicated.

Graham Phillips filmingOf course, I always want my journalism to be free for everyone to view, I don’t like paywalls, or barriers. So, it’s not like I say to those who take part ‘you get first view‘ or so on. But, of course, I look to offer the most interesting rewards possible, and next week, when the project finishes, attention will turn to fulfilling pledges to all those who participated, have made it possible.

But … there’s lots to come before we bring this Brexit project to a close over the weekend! More special reportage, more video snapshots, a wrap-up video! And then, of course, attention will turn to the next project. And what will that be? It’ll be announced first here in a newsletter, and there’ll be another crowdfunding project to make that happen!

So, in the next newsletter, we’ll do a statistical wrap of this project, giving you all the facts, figures, trivia. And, we go on from there. Thank you for reading this newsletter, if you want to be first to get it, with an extra letter, drop an email to me at – gwplondon@gmail.com or write to me on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/GrahamWPUK

Best for now, Graham

A Graham Newsletter (#3) Brexit Reportage Nears Conclusion

It’s been quite a ride so far, for my crowdfunded Brexit reportage, with over 6500km travelled so far to bring you the most interesting reportage possible on the subject.

With the debate about the UK leaving the EU, I headed to Europe first. Why? I wanted to show some more about the EU the UK was voting to stay in, or leave.

So first, it was to have a look at those who want to get into the UK, often risking life and limb to do so, first going to the infamous jungle in Calais, where things got a bit heated –

Then, to Lille, where with Ukraine taking on Germany, I wanted to see how Ukrainian fans related to the fact that their country, in the war which resulted from their attempt to enter the EU, with Ukraine’s attempts to enter the EU ongoing, has been shelling, and killing civilians –

From there, it was 2000km up to Latvia, where I was deported, and banned from, in March. And why? I wanted to have a look at EU values, and what happens when you lose control of your borders –

From there, it was over 1500km to Denmark, and I wanted to show both how the ‘borderless’ EU is now erecting borders, and see what the Danes think both of Brexit, and the EU –

And most recently, back to London to see if the murder of Jo Cox would affect the outcome of the referendum –

With just a few days until the referendum, there’s lots more reportage to come, and with these videos in total at almost half a million hits, on my channel alone, we are going strong!

My crowdfunder stands at 75% by the way, so still a chance to get involved here –

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/uk-referendum-reportage/x/12236308#/

Very best for now, Graham

Updates (#3) I’m not in UKIP anymore…

Graham Phillips

Last year, before the 2015 UK General election, I publicly announced I’d joined
the party UKIP. I always believe in being completely open about everything.

I wanted to not only vote for UKIP, but show more support for them, send out an EU Referendumemphatic signal that I support a referendum in the United Kingdom on EU membership.

Mission accomplished. In no small part due to UKIP pressure, there will be a referendum in the UK on June 23rd on EU membership.

I’ll be covering this as a correspondent, so it’s no longer appropriate for me to be a member of a political party (even in this case, I was never an active member). I’ve not renewed my UKIP membership.

I put personal politics aside to cover this referendum objectively.

A Channel’s Correspondent to a Crowdfunded Correspondent

Graham Phillips

Sometimes the question comes up ‘how did you go from working for tv channels, to working through crowdfunding?’ So, here we go. In the past few days, I’ve got a few things off my chest, particularly in relation to the channel RT, for whom I started working as a tv correspondent, over 2 years ago, in Donbass.

Why did I, from Great Britain, go to work for Russian media? Well, Euromaidan (pictured) Euromaidansaw the shattering of all my, what turned out to be, illusions about media. When you’ve stood on a street and witnessed chaos, mess, terrorism, yet see it on BBC, CNN, depicted as a ‘revolution of dignity’ etc, masks slip pretty quickly.

There are no objective news channels at all. Every channel has an angle, agenda.

It so happened, that on Euromaidan, Crimea, and Donbass, the angle, agenda of the Russian channels was much more truthful than that of the western media. Not completely objective, no, but no media is. We live in an age where every channel or newspaper is owned, either overtly or not, by corporations, businesses, states. BBC, for example, governed by a BBC Trust comprising several members with connections to big business, including Roger Carr, chairman of defence contractor BAE systems, with lucrative arms contracts across the
world. 
 The famously ‘independent’ Guardian, owned by the Guardian Media Graham RTGroup, with its famously secret ‘externally managed investment fund’. 

RT, famously owned by the Russian state. So, what’s it like working for them, what are the terms? They offered me $300 a day to to a week’s work reporting in Donetsk back when things were kicking off there in April 2014. That may sound like a reasonable amount, but you have to stay somewhere, it was hotels back then, and, when it got to Slavyansk, my agreement with RT extending beyond a week, but not every day, it was necessary to get a fixer too. I had to take care of all of this, and getting expenses back was always a struggle, on not one occasion finding myself questioned about receipts for taxi fares for a few pounds.

Also, it’s hard work. When you are on a day’s shift, you are ‘on call’, and RT called, all the time. There would be several producers on shift at any time, and it seemed to be the thing to do to regularly call correspondents. I found this initially frustrating going up to really pretty irritating, as here –

– as I was always running about trying to film things, the phone would frequently be going off during this. But then, new to it all, perhaps I’d simply misread the role of correspondent for a channel. I wanted, in an erupting war situation as it was, with things flaring up all over the place, literally all the time, to be chasing
all the stories, filming all the action. RT mostly wanted me to be in the quiet centre of Slavyansk doing link ups to satellite camera. I didn’t see the point of this, standing in a calm street while things were flaring up all around.

Then, RT would want to send me places, having ‘hot tips’ of action somewhere. Sometimes they were hot tips, other times stone cold. They were a bit obsessed at Graham Phillips Luganskthe time with all sorts of things supposedly going on in Izyum, so kept sending me there, to no real result, but in fairness got it bang on with the Lugansk uprisings of the end of April (pictured).

Now, I’ve written about not wanting anything to do with RT, not liking working for the channel, and that’s true. But I don’t echo the sentiments of other former RT correspondents out of terms with the channel in respect of being told what to say, report etc. I had a free reign, would record and report what I saw. There would be times when RT wouldn’t use all the material I’d send them, or may select parts for edit, but in any case I’d upload all the material onto my YouTube channel, they knew I did that, there were no restrictions on that. RT did, on occasion, tell me about preferred terminology, but I honestly didn’t pay too much attention to that, and it was never an issue.

I would say this – it was hard work. When RT knew you were on a working day, they knew you were on a working day. There were times I’d get back to the hotel after being on my feet filming the whole day, shattered. Then there’d be a call ‘we
Fullscreen capture 09062016 100803.bmpneed you to do a Skype interview’. I’d do the Skype interview, be preparing to hit the hay, another call, another, and so on. Other times, called out on the street late at night for a satellite link up. But again, this isn’t a beef, being a correspondent on the ground when the ground is as active as it was in Donbass back then, is always going to be hard work, and there’s an adrenalin which powers you through.

The reason for my discord with RT is simply, when I’d do a story which got some heat, it was all ‘RT’s Graham Phillips’ and so, but when I was ever in a position of needing RT’s support, on the field, they would as a first option, throw me under the bus.

My employment with RT ended after my 2nd deportation from Ukraine, in July of 2014. Now, I fully accept they’d told me not to go to Donetsk airport during battle, but I went, got taken captive, many of my possessions, including car, stolen by Graham Phillips deportedUkrainian forces. I got released, deported into Poland, called by as it seemed everyone at RT, congratulating me on release, saying they’d fly me to Moscow etc, they went huge about it on air, booking me into a studio in Warsaw for a special feature. And after that, literally, dumped me there. There was a meeting, where it was decided I’d ‘reached the end of my useful life‘, and that was that. No Moscow, no visa support, nothing. They’d gone so big on my having had my car and money stolen, huge features about it on air, but no compensation for that. They knew I couldn’t return to the home I’d left to report for them, in Graham Phillips WarsawOdessa, now banned from Ukraine. Again, nothing. I’m pictured here in Warsaw, just, taking it all in, wondering what to do next. And more, I didn’t at all feel at the ‘end of my useful life’, felt I was just starting.

In my return to Donbass, after doing some work for RT during the World Cup 2014, I’d negotiated a higher rate of pay, $500 a day, but only got 3 days of that in the end. So, all told, taking into account the loss of my car, equipment etc, my RT career ended with my actually having perhaps broken even, if you don’t take into account the apartment I’d effectively lost. If you do, well, I’d certainly have been much better off materially just staying at home!

But I’d never been about money. The big money was always in western media. I knew guys who’d sit in Kiev, crack out columns on Donbass for Newsweek, New Statesman etc at a couple of thousand dollars a pop. Russian media simply doesn’t offer that. I’d gone with that option because it gave me the chance to report things as I saw them.

Anyway, deported by Ukraine, dumped by RT, I saw in Warsaw in early August of 2014 wondering what to do, sure neither what, nor how to do it. The idea of doing a crowdfunder to continue reportage from Donbass just didn’t occur to me at that time – crowdfunding was still fairly new. I figured just get back there, to Donbass, and take it from there. I decided on Lugansk, and needed to hurry, with Luganskthe city further under siege each day and access nigh-on impossible. I returned from Poland, rushed to the visa embassy in London, got a tourist visa for Russia, took off for Moscow, headed down to Rostov, and found someone who got me in to the city of Lugansk, at that time cut off, under relentless Ukrainian shelling, no power, water, phone signal and the one internet connection in the city provided by the other Russian channel there, Life News. There were no other western journalists, in fact hardly any journalists, and I spent the next month filming as much as possible and, without a channel, submitting my videos to agency.

Working as a video journalist is just about as precarious a profession as it gets. There, there is – as is the nature of the trade – absolutely no loyalty, it’s simply who’s got the hottest video. So to make a living, you have to be in the hottest place a lot of times and your competition is anyone with a cameraphone! So, it’s tough, but at that time in Lugansk there was (sadly) enough action to mean that my work was taken up almost every day.

(August 22nd 2014)

However, I’ve never seen myself purely as a video journalist, enjoying filming but also being an ‘on camera’ correspondent, so was looking for offers from a channel. In September 2014, the Russian channel Zvezda approached me to work
for them. Now, I knew they reported into the Russian Military of Defence, but, was assured all my work would be presented as it was, no directives etc.

So it was, I started work for Zvezda, filming my reports on YouTube, sending them to the channel. And I have to say, working for them was actually far smoother than RT – almost no calls, or Skypes. I’d just film my report, send it off, Fullscreen capture 08062016 232532.bmpand if they took it, I’d negotiated 500 Euros, an excellent rate (although I needed to pay a camerman to film my stand-ups from that), but there would sometimes be a couple of weeks and more when they wouldn’t take anything.

Did I like the Zvezda edit of my pieces? Well, I spoke English, and they dubbed it into Russian. I wasn’t always totally enamoured with how the pieces came out, but then anyone who makes material, and hands it over for edit, will feel the same. The Russian angle, agenda in the Zvezda pieces was a bit more overt, as is the nature of the channel, and ultimately that resulted in my decision to cut ties with the channel, in February of 2015.

And, after that, I found myself at an impasse of a crossroads. I’d now become known for my work in Donbass as working with Russian media, and had seen the impact that had in the west. The result was the west immediately discounting my Fullscreen capture 08062016 233115.bmpwork ‘don’t listen to Graham, he works for Russian media‘, ‘Russian propagandist etc. When you put your life on the line, and I got wounded while working in November of 2014, to deliver the truth, it’s of course far from gratifying when there’s a palpable barrier put up to that getting over to a wider audience. Of course there are a lot of people who want it that way, have made up any number of nonsense stories and claims about me in attempts to discredit my work – I’m a Russian agent, British agent, sex tourist, gay’... it goes on.

Anyway, post Zvezda, I made the call to go it alone. I had offers to work with Vice News, but couldn’t associate myself with a channel who I felt had been entirely dishonest in their coverage of Crimea, Donbass. The BBC contacted me several times, but, after their coverage of Euromaidan, Crimea, Donbass, BBC News exists to me only as a propaganda agency I want nothing to do with.

So, I got by last year on earnings from Zvezda, my YouTube channel, and sponsors. As for the latter, people see a lot of hits, my channel is near 50 million now, and equate that with serious coin. But it’s not quite like that. A thousand hits in much of Europe, the US, can bring in about $4, quite reasonable. If those are in Russia, where rates are far lower for advertising, it’s only 0.40 cents, if Ukraine 0.20 cents. So, in the early days, when the eyes of the west were on droneUkraine, and Donbass, it did generate a decent amount. But since late 2014, the audience has been mainly Russian, from Donbass, or Ukraine so, the hits may still be high, but the sum can be a few dollars.

I did my first crowdfunder, in April of 2015, to fund a drone, it seemed to capture people’s imaginations, went very well. And in September of the year I set up a Patreon account, donations on that, a little less than $200 a month, significant to my work. That, along with donations to my Paypal account, and fairly modest expenses while working in Donbass, Crimea have allowed me to get by.

Coming back to the UK a couple of weeks ago has been a shock in a lot of ways. When I last returned in 2015, Donbass did have some resonance here, but, sadly, that’s entirely gone now, it seems like a different world. Then there’s London, it Graham Phillips UKchanges so much every time that it’s not just buildings which are different, it’s entire streets. New trends, atmosphere, it’s coming back to a city which moved so quickly it didn’t miss a beat when you left, reintegrating. And realising, this is the real world – for me, my world. You can go away and be a ‘big man’ somewhere else, taking a position against your own country’s government as I have, with my work having resonated in Donbass, and Russia (though I’d like to think not just because of that, but due to the quality of reportage, my having worked very hard – over 4000 videos on my channel), but if you’re unknown in your own backyard, there’s a discord.

Of course, being known personally is not what it’s about. I’d like people to see the reportage, know the truth. It’s hard to have friends back in Donbass, suffering under a war situation ongoing because, in large part, the west has switched off allowing the predicament there to perpetuate. But of course, as a correspondent, there are a lot of things interesting to me, which I want to report on. And there’s a bonus in doing so, that if I can win a new audience through work which resonates in the west, I can hopefully take them to know the truth about Donbass.

But how to do it, when both roads are closed, for the above reasons, to Russian, and to western channels? Well, I have go it myself, via crowdfunding.

Set up a project, find people to support it, finance it, make it happen. This is my new project, UK referendum reportage – currently at 25% of the funding target –

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/uk-referendum-reportage/x/12236308#/

So how does this compare to being a channel’s correspondent? Well, there are extra stresses – having to raise finance, of course, is stressful. Despite the perception with crowdfunding that you put a project up, and that’s it, it flies, crowdfunding is actually, usually, a fight to get financing. After my first, lucky, Fullscreen capture 09062016 015443.bmpdrone project, I did a Baltics one which ended up well under target. And this latest one similarly, tough. There are no incredibly wealthy benefactors who with the click of a moneyed finger, make the whole project happen. There are normal people, pledging mostly 10 and 20 pounds. And, in the real world, to make a project even with minimal costs happen, you need a lot of that.

However, on the other side, if it happens, the result can be, simply, the ultimate correspondent’s dream. Freedom to report everything, exactly as it is, not beholden to any one or organisation. Knowing that people support you, support your work, it’s a wonderful feeling. The potential to make a unique project happen because of that.

It’s still new though, the idea of a crowdfunded correspondent. I sometimes ask myself how it came to this, because in some ways, you are alone, everything stands or falls on you. But in another way, it’s the best thing of all, no one calling Graham Phillips journalistyou, telling you what to do, where to go. I hope to build a career on the unique opportunity that crowdfunding gives. Of course, I can only do that if people support me, and people will only support me if the work deserves it. There’s no safety net, it’s live or die.

Be sure, I’ll give it my all to realise this incredible opportunity. People pledging to me now are fairly low in number, but huge in significance. To make it happen long-term, I’ll need more people to see the worth in true, independent reportage. That could even be you, reading this. If so, be sure, from my side, your pledge to me will be met with a pledge from me to turn your support into reportage which can change the world.

Advice from Graham (#1) Visiting the DPR / LPR as a Westerner

Graham Phillips

It’s a question which people ask me quite a bit. So, here are 10 things to take into account:

1. I know more, personally, about visiting from the Russian side, but have heard quite a bit about crossing from the Ukraine side. Not heard great reports from there – Ukrainian troops asking for a special ‘permit’, but being open to a 500 hrv. bribe, taking possessions away to ‘check’ them, not returning iPhones, I’ve heard it all.

DPR borderI wouldn’t recommend crossing into the DPR / LPR, as a westerner, from the Ukraine side.

2. Crossing from the Russian side, firstly, you HAVE to have a double-entry visa, so you can get back out the Russian side again. Crossing from the Russian side and then trying to cross over into Ukraine … the best you can hope for is a Zaparhozhe jail cell, and deportation.

3. The 90-day-stay thing, that’s not in place in the DPR / LPR, when you’re in, you’re in … BUT…

4. We all know the score, most of the west is against the DPR / LPR, so if you, as a westerner, just pitch up at a DPR / LPR border then be prepared not to be let in… Humanitarian DonbassAND…

5. If you bring humanitarian aid, there’s a chance you may not even get past the Russian border. There’s a limit of 50kg per person, and it’s enforced now. There was a time when cars full of pasta, tinned food and tea breezed through. For any number of reasons, those days are gone.

6. Not just humanitarian aid, I recently got held for 3 HOURS at the Russian border for trying to bring a drone into the DPR. It was the first time I’d crossed that border point, having never crossed there before, they saw the drone, got all DPR accreditationjumpy, started taking photos, sending photos to superiors. It was 3 hours, and a fair bit of gnashing of teeth, until my tyres moved. So, a point here – if you enter by one border, try to exit by that one too, they’ll remember you, it’ll be easier.

7. If you want to be sure of getting into the DPR / LPR, as a westerner visiting, you need to get someone to come to meet you at the border, vouch for you. If you are thinking of doing any journalism there, you need to get journalistic accreditation – fairly simple to get from the administrative buildings in Donetsk, and Lugansk. If you are planning on taking videos etc in public places, you could save yourself some problems by getting it.

8. You are entering a war zone, but, don’t expect to go in to booms and plumes of smoke – that was 2014/15. However, things are still on a war footing, so remember that. It’s essential either that you speak Russian, or have someone with you who speaks Russian. The language there – Russian. There are some people who speak English, but life will be a lot easier with Russian.

9. There are no working bank machines (people sometimes tell me there are, I’ve not found them), so make sure you take enough money – roubles – for your trip. Petrol is a bit more expensive than Russia, 43 roubles for the litre to 33, but it’s freely available. Hotels work, there’s food and restaurants, a lot of things look quite normal…. HOWEVER….

10. Don’t lull yourself into thinking things are normal. Most people there will be friendly to you, they are good people, but the mood towards westerners is certainly not universally positive after a western-backed bombing campaign which has seen thousands killed there.

And be considerate of the people there, life is still hard, with little money and employment opportunities far from bountiful. A lot of people there have literally Donbass painbeen through hell, lost loved ones, homes. (Photo, Lugansk 2014)

You can go to Lugansk and not hear any shelling, or Donetsk and only hear it at night, but it’s there. Of course, if you stay in the normal places, you’ll be safe, go to the perimeters, and there’s not only possible shelling, but also landmines to factor in.

There is law and order, even traffic police, there, hospitals work, shops are open. There’s nothing like the lawlessness the west would like you to believe. But, war, LPR summerand what comes with it, destruction, poverty, destitution, hasn’t brought out the best in everyone, so if in doubt, err on the side of caution, and take extra care on the roads. All that said, most people in the DPR, LPR are warm, friendly, will be happy to have a visitor.

There’s a curfew in Donetsk and Lugansk, as I understand, 11pm in Donetsk, 10pm in Lugansk. It’s more flexible now than before, but, be sure to always have your documents on you, in any case.

And don’t think you need to be an activist, pro-DPR / LPR to go there. You can be pro-Ukraine and go there, if you want. But, respect the people there, the mood towards Ukraine is almost universally negative, the people like their republics, so… be a good guest, whatever your own views!

Ok, stick to all of the above, and, enjoy your visit!

A Graham Newsletter (#2) Return to the UK, Brexit Reportage – and More…

Graham Phillips

What happens when you stay in a foreign country for a long period? You come back to your own country, and it’s like a foreign country. I’ve been back in the UK Fullscreen capture 04062016 190103.bmpfor two weeks now, and, to be honest, it’s been quite a transition. I’d been away for over a year, working in Donbass, Russia, the Baltics (briefly).

And now back to a UK which has certainly changed, a London where entire streets are different to as I remember them. And the realisation that what I put my heart and soul into, my work over in Donbass, Crimea and more, just hasn’t reached over here.

Of course, Donbass is always in my thoughts and even as I write this, there are people living there in third world conditions due to war, while war, at some level, goes on. I know some of you supported me when I was doing humanitarian work there, having left living in Donbass full-time, I don’t do that now, so suggest you contact Patrick Lancaster.

My focus is to do reportage which will resonate with a western audience, and take that audience with me to my Donbass reportage, to make a breakthrough in the information blockade there. To that end, I’m hugely excited about my upcoming UK referendum reportage project.

It’s entirely crowdfunded, and as I write this the campaign is at 12% funded, so in need of a little help! Full details here –

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/uk-referendum-reportage/x/12236308#/

Video here –

Of course, I’ve been spending some time here preparing for a wider western audience who won’t know anything about me, and, due to the weight of western propaganda determined to discredit those who report the other side, may well google and see me described as a ‘pro-Russian propagandist’ and so on. So, have written a factual biography of myself, just here.

Also, spent some time to write an account of Ukraine as it was 4 years ago – when I lived in Kiev, and as it is now, what a difference 4 years has made. This article is over 4500 words long, so make sure you’ve a cup of tea!

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2016/06/05/euro-2012-svoboda-bandera-the-rise-of-fascism-in-ukraine-when-i-quit-kiev/

And I was very happy to present a guest article on the Truth Speaker, by Stefan Beck, on the Dutch Referendum two months on –

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2016/06/06/does-no-always-mean-no-dutch-referendum-aftermath/

Would you like to write something for the Truth Speaker? Drop me a line – gwplondon@gmail.com

Of course, I’ve got videos to come too – including this taster from the Taigan safari park. And I’m now busily preparing for the start of my UK Referendum reportage trip. The target of £1600 may seem like a lot, but believe me, you’ll see where all the money has gone in the reportage!

And of course, I believe this reportage can make a difference, in itself, and in bringing a new audience to the truth about Donbass, Crimea and more!

That’s all for now, thanks very much for all your support! Graham

Does ‘No’ always mean ‘No’? Dutch Referendum Aftermath

Stefan BeckStefan Beck

Stefan is a Dutch freelance journalist.

The Dutch referendum, 2 months on

In the Dutch referendum of April 7th, 61% of Dutch voters casted their votes against an association agreement between Ukraine and the EU. In theory Dutch referendumthis should lead to a rejection of the association agreement. However, things are looking dim for democracy as a repetition of the Dutch 2005 referendum, in which Dutch voters voted against a European Constitution that was eventually still implemented, seem imminent.

On April 6th Dutch voters voted against the Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine. About 61% of Dutch voters voted against a controversial agreement that has sparked the Euromaidain revolution in 2013. Although the results of the referendum were not binding the weeks leading up to the referendum saw intense campaigning and all parties promised to respect the results of the referendum.

In the Dutch law conserning the referendum it is written that the government is not obligated to follow the results of the elections. However the law does state that:

“ If [the referendum] concerns the approval of a treaty, than a decision will be made as quickly as possible if a proposal of law will be submitted that will only concern the withdrawl of the law or of approval of the initiative to cancel the agreement, in case of the treaty has already come into effect”(1)

Wih other words, the Dutch government can choose to ignore or to accept the treaty on which a referendum was held. But it has to make a decision as quickly as possible. This decision should only concern accepting or rejecting the treaty on Mark Ruttewhich the referendum was held.

In a recent parliamentary debate, prime minister Rutte (pictured voting) however has stated that he will not choose to ignore the outcome of the referendum. Hence a ‘yes’ in favour of the treaty is out of the question. He however also doesn’t chooses a ‘no’, and thereby the government seems to violate the referendum law. Prime minister Rutte explained that if a ‘no’ is chosen, it will result that The Netherlands will be excluded from further talks on the Association Agreement on a European level. Hence, by not saying ‘no’ or ‘yes’ Rutte hopes, at least formally, to keep influence on the implementation of the agreement.

Furthermore prime minister Rutte has delayed a decision on the referendum. In front of parliament Rutte has explained this delay as follows:

“As soon as possible, why not the coming weeks? Because of the simple reason that the UK referendum is also taking place. And our political taxation and also the first signals we received from our European partners is that we first want to have that out of the way, that is the 23rd of june. That has to be over with before people [In Brussels – SB] openly want to talk about this.”(2)

Hence a decision has been made to postphone a decision on the referendum. The reason for postphonement is that the timing is very inconventiant from a political point of view for the upcoming Brexit referendum.

Dutch Referendum UkraineHowever, both these decisions seems to violate the referendum law. Because, again, the law states that a decision has to be made as quickly as possible, solely dealing with the acceptance or rejecting of the treaty. Whether or not the decision of the Dutch government is unlawful is up to the court to Judge.

Rutte seems to violate the law because the only way to test whether a violation has taken place is by a decision of the court and this is exactly what is being done at the moment. After a failed resolution by parliament in order to force the Dutch government to take a position on the agreement, the organisation ‘Forum for Democracy’ has sued the Dutch state for not complying with the with referendum law.(3)

Whether or not a repetition of Dutch referendum of 2005 will occur, in which voters voted down a treaty they would eventually still get but with a different name, is to be seen. For now the next part of the game will be either played in court or after the Brexit referendum.

Footnotes

1 – http://wetten.overheid.nl/BWBR0036443/2015-07-01 – Art. 12 lid 3Of Art. 15 lid 2 – Betreft het een wet tot goedkeuring van een verdrag, dan wordt zo spoedig mogelijk beslist of een voorstel van wet zal worden ingediend dat uitsluitend strekt tot intrekking van de wet of tot goedkeuring van het voornemen tot opzegging van het verdrag, indien de binding aan het verdrag reeds is aangegaan.

2 – https://debatgemist.tweedekamer.nl/debatten/uitslag-raadgevend-referendum-associatieverdrag-met-oekraïne

“As soon as possible, why not the coming weeks? Because of the simple reason that the UK referendum is also taking place. And our political taxation and also the first signals we received from our European partners is that we first want to have that out of the way, thatis the 23rd of june. That has to be over with before people openly want to talk about this. This does not mean that behind the sences nothing can take place. But the official conversations in Brussels can only lead to conclusions, and what us concerns, as quickly as possible after the 23rd of june.

Tot slot Voorzitter, zo spoedig mogelijk, waarom niet de komende weken? Om de Simpele reden er dat ook het VK referendum speelt. En onze politieke taxatie en ook de eerste signalen die we krijgen van onze Europese partners is dat we dat eerst weg willen hebben, dat is 23 juni. Dat moet eerst voorbij zijn voordat men openlijk hierover wil spreken. Dat betekend niet dat er achter de schermen niets kan gebeuren, maar het openlijke gesprek in Brussel hierover kan pas tot conclusies leiden en wat ons betreft heel snel na 23 juni.

3 – http://politiek.eenvandaag.nl/tv-items/66629/forum_voor_democratie_daagt_nederlandse_staat