Ben replaces Jaap at Foreign Ministry

2nd December 2003, Comments 0 comments

2 December 2003 AMSTERDAM — In one of his last official acts as Dutch Foreign Minister, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer attended the second day of his last OSCE security summit on Tuesday before taking up his position as Nato Secretary General. The 66-year-old former diplomat Ben Bot will be appointed by Queen Beatrix to replace him at the Foreign Ministry in an official portfolio transfer ceremony at 1.30pm on Wednesday. He becomes a minister for the Christian Democrat CDA, the largest party in the three-way CDA, L

2 December 2003

AMSTERDAM — In one of his last official acts as Dutch Foreign Minister, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer attended the second day of his last OSCE security summit on Tuesday before taking up his position as Nato Secretary General.

The 66-year-old former diplomat Ben Bot will be appointed by Queen Beatrix to replace him at the Foreign Ministry in an official portfolio transfer ceremony at 1.30pm on Wednesday.

He becomes a minister for the Christian Democrat CDA, the largest party in the three-way CDA, Liberal VVD and Democrat D66 coalition government.

De Hoop Scheffer's closing official duties as the nation's foreign minister saw him attend a summit of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which was meeting in the southern Dutch city of Maastricht on Monday and Tuesday. The Netherlands currently holds the OSCE rotating presidency.

Meeting delegates from 55 countries discussed a range of issues including the political crisis in Georgia, racism and discrimination and the battle against human smuggling and the international drugs trade.

But US Secretary of State Colin Powell urged Russia on Tuesday to pull its troops out of Georgia and Moldova, where 30,000 people took to the streets on 30 November to protest at what they say is Russian interference in the former Soviet Bloc region.

Georgia's interim President Nino Burdzhanadze also said at the OSCE summit on Monday her country wanted to repair relations with Russia, but not at the cost of its sovereignty. A new presidential and parliamentary election will be held in Georgia next year and the OSCE has allocated EUR 6 million and pledged close support to staging the new poll.

Russia, however, scuttled two motions on Tuesday aimed at persuading it to meet its troop withdrawal obligations. The soldiers were to leave before the end of the year but Russia says it will only consider pulling back its troops once the OSCE deploys its own stabilisation force.

Meanwhile, Bot is a former career diplomat and pensioner and was named as De Hoop Scheffer's replacement a couple of months ago. But he reportedly agreed in consultation with Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and the government information service, RVD, to stay silent and not answer questions about his future.

He retired last year after serving a 10-year stint as the highest placed Dutch diplomat assigned to the EU in Brussels.  Political sources in The Hague have said Bot has been picked for the Foreign Ministry because of his vast European experience.

His pro-European stance is in contrast to De Hoop Scheffer's pro-US leanings. De Hoop Scheffer got the Nato job largely due to US support, after Belgium, France and Germany "disqualified" themselves by opposing the US-British invasion of Iraq.

De Hoop Scheffer will replace current Nato chief Lord Robertson in January, but has refused to answer questions about the future of the security alliance. It has been widely reported, however, that he wishes to modernise Nato and forge stronger US-European ties.

[Copyright Expatica News 2003]

Subject: Dutch news

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