Dutch News in brief, Monday 19 January 2009
Read the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands for the latest news in the Netherlands.
Document questioning legality of Dutch involvement in Iraq suppressed
All the newspapers focus on revelations which first appeared in NRC Handelsblad on Saturday. The most senior advisor in the Dutch Foreign Ministry decided not to send an important document concerning the legality of Dutch support for the war in Iraq to the foreign minister at the time, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. De Volkskrant writes that the country’s top legal advisers concluded that there was no legal basis for Dutch support of the war in Iraq. However, the Foreign Ministry’s Secretary-General Frank Majoor wrote on the document: “To be well-hidden in the archives for future generations. The discussion is, for the time being, closed!”
On Sunday, Social Affairs Minister Piet Hein Donner (Christian Democrats) said on television that not all documents reach ministers. “It is the task of senior civil servants to select (documents) so that cabinet ministers are not deluged with information and opinions.”
Call for parliamentary inquiry
The Dutch parliament has turned down some ten motions calling for a debate on the decision to support the United States invasion of Iraq. The revelation that an important document on the issue was deliberately withheld from the Foreign Minister might well have opened a can of worms. In an editorial, Trouw writes: “For six years Parliament has upheld the conclusion that the Netherlands (…) made a legitimate decision to furnish political support for the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Until this weekend, that is, when it became unequivocally clear that this version of events was based on quicksand.” Trouw says parliament can no longer hide behind Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende’s unwillingness to debate the issue.
The conservative mass-circulation newspaper De Telegraaf, on the other hand, writes that a parliamentary inquiry is still not justified. “The Netherlands is sinking into a deep recession and our soldiers are carrying out an unbelievably difficult mission in Afghanistan. Politicians should be thinking about other issues.”
Protests against highway through nature reserve
Trouw reports that around 2,500 people turned out on Saturday to protest against plans to build a highway through the Amelisweerd nature reserve in the vicinity of Utrecht. The newspaper reminds readers that: “Twenty-five years ago activists fought hard to protect the nature reserve. Then there were also plans to build a highway through Amelisweerd. Activists sheltered in trees to prevent this from happening; it was the first occupation of woods in Dutch history.” However, the protests were in vain and now the A27 cuts the western part of the Amelisweerd off from the rest of the reserve.
Trouw writes that the present-day activists include many residents of Utrecht and the nearby town of Bunnik, including pupils from Bunnik elementary school. “There were also veterans of the occupation of the woods from 25 years ago.” They are again thinking about “occupying trees”. “Members of GreenFront! dispersed flyers for a climbing workshop to be held next week.”
Kafka in the Polder
AD writes about a new guidebook “for tracing and solving unnecessary bureaucracy”. The guidebook Kafka in the Polder was written by members of the Kafka Brigade which was set up to help people who feel lost in a maze of ridiculous regulations. “Such as the disabled man, who is missing two legs, but has to go and get his disability insurance renewed each year. As if the legs may have grown back that year!” The AD also mentions the entrepreneurs who wanted to build a windmill park in the North Sea. They may as well have started by hiring a bus to transport the necessary environmental effect reports. The Department of Public Works required no less then sixty copies of each.
Our daughter’s name is Hammer
Nrc.next reports that parents are increasingly thinking up extremely unusual first names for their newborn children. People no longer want to give their unique child the same name as hundreds of other children. Among the names recently given to children are Storm, Bumblebee, Flower, Love and Panther. “Take Lucas Verweij and Hella Jongerius, both designers. They named their six-year-old daughter Hammer. Verweij: “We wanted a special name and Hammer is a simple Dutch word. An object which you can hold comfortably in your hand and lasts for a lifetime. It radiates strength. And you hope that your child will live up to her name, that she will have the strength of a hammer.” Several years ago the name ‘15 October’ was accepted. Luckily for the child it was a middle name.
Radio Netherlands/Frank Scimone/Expatica