Dutch news in brief, Thursday 9 April 2009
Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.EU Commissioner to investigate Fortis and ABN Amro takeovers
Most of today's papers report on European Competition announcement to investigate if the government takeovers of Fortis Nederland and ABN Amro violated EU regulations.
The investigation would be lead by European Commissioner for Competition, Neelie Kroes, Commissioner Neelie Kroes'
AD reports that Finance Minister Wouter Bos was greatly surprised when he heard the news on Wednesday night and said it was all a misunderstanding.
Finance ministry spokesperson Lies Weitenberg said there is no reason for an investigation: "The minister and Ms Kroes have met tonight to discuss any additional information she might need to evaluate the provision of state support."
Both Fortis Nederland and ABN Amro have refused to comment.
AD writes while Kroes did not question the takeover of the banks, she said the interest rate charged by the Dutch state was so low that it seemed intended to provide the bank with cheap financing.
Bos’s payment of EUR 6.5 billion to ABN Amro may have been in excess of its actual market value.
According to Trouw, sources in Brussels said the Dutch finance minister counted on the benevolence of the Dutch Euro Commissioners, whereas Kroes has stated clearly that she does not favour her native country.
Dutch hostages in Yemen appear to be safe
De Volkskrant publishes an unusual photograph: Dutch hostage Jan Hogendoorn being hugged by the Yemeni tribal leader who is holding him prisoner.
Jan Hogendoorn and his wife Heleen Janszen were kidnapped on 31 March by a tribe which is demanding redress for a shooting last year in which several of their members were injured.
Yemeni mediators visited the tribe on Sunday in an attempt to secure the release of the hostages who live and work in Yemen. The negotiations are still ongoing, but judging by the photograph, there appears to be little reason to fear for the safety of the hostages.
CDA chair forced to withdraw comments on coalition with Freedom Party
Trouw writes that CDA party leader Peter van Heeswijk has been forced to withdraw his remarks about possibly forming a coalition with Geert Wilders' Freedom Party after the next elections.
In an interview with de Volkskrant on 21 March, the Christian Democratic leader said he did not want to rule out any coalition, including one involving the Freedom Party, even though there were huge differences between them. Wilders responded that a coalition with the CDA and the conservative VVD was "obvious".
However, during Tuesday's weekly meeting of the CDA parliamentary party, at least four MPs made it clear they had principal objections against a coalition with a party which agitates against Muslims and Islam. Sources said they feared a collaboration would split the Christian Democratic party in two.
Now, Van Heeswijk said he had been quoted incorrectly by de Volkskrant and offered his apologies.
The latest opinion polls indicate that if elections were held today, the Freedom Party would win 27 seats, compared to 26 for the CDA, 21 for the Labour Party and 19 for the democrat party D66.
Only half of expelled aliens actually deported
De Telegraaf reports Dutch deportation policies are "totally ineffective" and blames the cabinet for not putting enough effort into the deportation of illegal aliens.
In 2008, more than 1,000 so-called ‘return flights’ were cancelled, mainly because aliens were not delivered to the gate on time, or because documents had not been filled in correctly.
Figures published in the annual report of a government commission charged with supervising the extradition process show that only half of the illegal aliens held in detention centres are actually deported.
The report attributes the failure to the lack of urgency on the part of various government services, a lack of collaboration, and the limited powers of the immigration police.
MPs of VVD and CDA are demanding clarification from Deputy Justice Minister Nebahat Albayrak.
Afghanistan-bound soldier bids farewell to teary families
Today's AD features a photograph of Dutch soldier Michael saying goodbye to his tearful girlfriend Lisa at Eindhoven Airport.
Michael is one of a group of 80 soldiers heading for Camp Holland in southern Afghanistan. Michael said: "This is difficult for my family, but I've been looking forward to this. My first deployment. I'm going to a different world and do what I'm good at."
The recent death of Private first class Azdin Chadli in a rocket attack on Camp Holland has made this farewell particularly difficult for the families of soldiers who have been sent to Afghanistan.
Michael’s girlfriend said the news of Chadli's death gave her quite a jolt: "Oops, even more stress… but I think positive."
After a final speech by an army colonel, it's time to go. "These people love one another," an officer said, "but now they have to let go of each other."
Radio Netherlands / Georg Schreuder Hess / Expatica