Balkenende expects 'fruitful' EU-US relations

4th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

4 November 2004 , AMSTERDAM — Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende speaking on behalf of the European Union has congratulated George W Bush on his re-election to the White House and said he anticipates a continuation of the "fruitful co-operation" between Europe and the US.

4 November 2004

AMSTERDAM — Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende speaking on behalf of the European Union has congratulated George W Bush on his re-election to the White House and said he anticipates a continuation of the "fruitful co-operation" between Europe and the US.

Balkenende said Europe and the US are linked by strong economic, political, cultural and social values. "This makes us each other's natural and indispensable partners," the prime minister said. The Dutch currently hold the six-month revolving presidency of the EU.

In a personal letter to Bush, Balkenende said the EU presidency was confident that this relationship would be further deepened and strengthened under Bush's continuing administration, a press release on the website www.eu2004.nl said.

But Dutch political parties were left divided on Wednesday in their reactions to Bush's victory. The divide was mainly split between the government coalition parties and opposition MPs.

Coalition government partners, the Christian Democrat Party (CDA) and the Liberal Party (VVD), welcomed the re-election of Bush. But they also said the relationship between Europe and the US must be improved.

Minor coalition partner Democrat D66 and the opposition parties the Labour Party  (PvdA), green-left GroenLinks and the Socialist Party believe a victory for Senator John Kerry would have proven more beneficial for transatlantic relations.

Bush picked up 51 percent of the popular vote on his way to a second term in the Oval Office, compared with 48 percent for Kerry. Bush is the first Republican president to win re-election since Ronald Reagan in 1984.

After Kerry conceded defeat in a phone call on Wednesday, Bush said: "We have one country, one Constitution and one future that binds us. To make this nation stronger and better, I will need your support and I will work to earn it."

And the leader of Republicans Abroad in the Netherlands, Steve Weiss, said Tuesday's election gave Bush a clear majority of 3.5 million votes and subsequently a strong mandate. He said it was a reward for Bush's "seriousness of purpose".

But questioned about strained transatlantic relations, Weiss said it was time to push disputes aside. Despite the differences between Europe and the US, both continents are developed world democracies with so much in common, he said.

"No on in the Bush administration sees it as a good thing that there is a schism between Europe and America," he said, adding that in the coming four years the US will work towards multilateralism.

But Weiss said it was also time for Europe to start reaching out to America and urged it to take up its responsibilities and also show leadership in the war against terror. Reversing common criticism, he lamented the lack of understanding Europeans had for America.

Meanwhile, a "hugely disappointed" leader of Democrats Abroad in the Netherlands, Robert Checkoway, said Bush's re-election was "a sad day for America and the world, because the world is going to have to live with four more years of unilateralist foreign policy".

"Americans right now are afraid and the simple black and white answers that George Bush provides are comforting. Unfortunately they are misguided, but they are comforting to voters who don't understand the big picture and the wider world."

Turning to the issue of security, Checkoway said the American public believed Bush's "simplified and inaccurate" view of the situation in Iraq and the war on terror. This meant the Democrats needed to better explain the complexity of the situation.

He also said the Democrats now have a lot of questions to answer and will start by holding a worldwide board meeting in Amsterdam this weekend.

But Checkoway said the voter registration drive had met with huge success, with Democrat branches worldwide reporting a record number of registrations. Recent US legislation will also provide accurate data on overseas voters from early next year.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news

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