Dutch MPs clash on development aid
Junior coalition partner Christian Democrats CDA have agreed to support proposed development aid cutbacks over the next five years. During a fierce parliamentary debate on foreign policy on Tuesday, CDA said it wanted to set up an formal review system to evaluate each year whether the 50-million euro cutbacks were justified.
CDA’s decision to support its main coalition partner, the free-market conservative VVD, is a reversal of an earlier standpoint on reducing development aid. CDA MP Kathleen Ferrier said the 250-million reduction in aid is a “painful area” for her party, “but I have to be realistic – there’s no room,” she added.
The Labour Party PvdA and the Socialist Party SP, were angered by the announcement. Referring to the government’s decision to increase the contribution to the World Bank fivefold, both left-wing opposition parties said the CDA was making a political choice. The PvdA and the SP want to reduce the Netherlands’ share of the World Bank budget.
VVD and Labour had a head-on clash when the subject turned to the Netherlands’ image abroad. VVD MP Atzo Nicolai said that the Netherlands wasn’t perceived as a “reliable partner”, because it didn’t comply with NATO’s request’s for extending the Dutch mission in Uruzgan. PvdA MP Frans Timmermans responded angrily to the VVD’s reproach, pointing out that the Dutch fulfilled their commitments and that no agreements had been made on extending the mission beyond 1 August of this year.
Earlier this year, the issue brought down the government, when Labour opted to reject a proposal from its coalition partner, the CDA, to extend the mission in Afghanistan. Mr Timmermans added that the Netherlands’ image abroad had been tremendously damaged by the fact that the VVD and the CDA’s coalition minority agreed to form a government with support from Geert Wilder’s far-right Freedom Party.
© Radio Netherlands Worldwide