A national hero or dirty old man?
21 February 2005 , AMSTERDAM — The editorial sections of Dutch newspapers were attempting on Monday to answer the question of how Ruud Lubbers would be remembered in years to come following his resignation as UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
21 February 2005
AMSTERDAM — The editorial sections of Dutch newspapers were attempting on Monday to answer the question of how Ruud Lubbers would be remembered in years to come following his resignation as UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
Lubbers resigned on Sunday after fresh controversy erupted when a British newspaper published explicit details of an internal UN investigation into allegations of sexual harassment.
The leaked UN report had indicated Lubbers was guilty of regular sexual misconduct, but the same report had only prompted UN chief Kofi Annan to issue Lubbers a warning last year because the allegations were unsustainable on a legal basis.
Newspaper De Volkskrant is now saying that Lubbers fought in vain against "foul methods", claiming that the UN had already decided it was time to do away with him on Friday, two days before he tendered his own resignation.
The newspaper was also referring to the fact that the results of the UN inquiry were largely known last year. The leaking of the confidential report in full only served to reignite last week a controversy that had largely blown over.
Both the Algemeen Dagblad (AD) and Trouw newspapers described Lubbers on Monday as "embittered". Trouw went further and said the allegations of sexual intimidation will stick with him forever, describing his career at the UN as "a painful international role for a national hero".
Het Financieele Dagblad pointed out that Lubbers missed being appointed to top positions within the European Union and Nato before "claiming revenge" by being appointed UNHCR chief. He now leaves that post with an "inglorious farewell because of an issue that got out of hand".
The AD questioned whether the public will remember Lubbers as the longest-serving Dutch prime minister "or as an old man who had to vacate the field after allegations of bottom squeezing?"
The nation's largest daily newspaper De Telegraaf, said Lubbers retained his honour and denied his resignation was a confession of guilt. The newspaper said a "splendid career" had ended and no one could "comprehend" that it had ended so badly.
But the newspaper also harked back to the words of Lubbers' wife, Ria, who once said that if her husband's career ends in nothing, he will simply come home.
It remains to be seen just how welcome he is.
[Copyright Expatica News + Novum Nieuws 2005]
Subject: Dutch news + Ruud Lubbers