Dutch news in brief, Wednesday 1 April 2009

1st April 2009, Comments 0 comments

Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.

Praises for the Netherlands on well-organised Afghanistan conference
The Afghanistan summit Tuesday was hailed by most of the Dutch papers as a good news show.

AD reports 'New future for Afghanistan', De Telegraaf boasts 'International acclaim for successful top’ and de Volkskrant reads 'In The Hague, Afghans receive support from 72 countries'. Most newspapers congratulate the Dutch authorities on successfully organising the summit at such short notice and quoted foreign leaders praising the Netherlands for its efficiency.

Afghan refugees not represented at summit 
Trouw interviews Afghan refugees who complain that they are not represented at the conference.

The paper writes: "Another international summit. Another closing statement full of nice words."

An Afghan refugee said there were similar summits in Berlin in 2004, in London in 2006, in Rome in 2007 and in Paris in 2008.

"Have the problems in Afghanistan been solved?" she asked rhetorically. The Afghan demonstrators say that though they are hopeful because of the change in policy of the new US administration, they were also hopeful in the past.

Rateb Faquiri, chairman of Favon, a federation of Afghan groups in the Netherlands, asked to be allowed to attend the conference but never received a reply.

When asked what he thinks would solve Afghanistan problems, he said warlords must lose their influence and measures must be taken to end corruption: "The Afghan rulers are addicted to it [corruption]."
Afghanistan summit comes under criticism
In De Pers report, is also cynical about the Afghanistan summit.

The headline 'Buttering up works well in The Hague' sums it up nicely. The paper reports on Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Hillary Clinton and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who were full of praises for the Netherlands.

However when the paper called a businessman in Kandahar, Afghanistan, he was surprised to learn of the conference on Afghanistan in The Hague.

"Is there a conference? Why?…Security inside and outside the city is still poor. I cannot even travel safely to Tarin Kowt," said the businessman.

A Dutch businesswoman in Kabul, Mary Munnik, said: The economy is going downhill because of corruption and violence. Investors are staying away."

De Pers writes: "While President Karzai is being applauded in The Hague for his fight against terrorism, just before his departure he approved a law which made it legal for a husband to rape his wife. In his Afghanistan, women will, in the near future, only be able to work and walk the streets with their husbands' permission."

After the conference Secretary of State Clinton announced that women’s rights were "a priority". The paper adds, however, that any criticism of the Afghan authorities "fell on deaf ears".

Wilders responds to April Fool’s Day prank
Since most people are on their guard on April Fool's Day, the free quality newspaper De Pers decided to strike a day early.

De Pers Tuesday reported that Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende had been pressuring the town of Den Helder to propose that it nominate the leader of the populist Freedom Party, Geert Wilders, as mayor. The cabinet would then get rid of Wilders, who is leading in the opinion polls, whilst the populist leader, who is constantly receiving death threats, would again be able to lead a normal life.

Wednesday, De Pers writes: "April Fool’s Day jokes are dumb. Nearly as dumb as the hype over Geert Wilders, who makes world news whenever he goes for a walk with his fellow MPs."

Wilders responded to the report by saying that he had no wish to become mayor of Den Helder. "Let Balkenende become mayor of Den Helder, then I can become prime minister."

April Fool’s Day pranks hit Netherlands
De Pers was not the only one to play April Fool's Day jokes prematurely. De Telegraaf writes that on Friday Social Affairs Minister Piet Hein Donner submitted a motion limiting the number of hours that ministers and deputy ministers are allowed to work.

According to the motion, they must not work more than an average of 48 hours a week between elections. Moreover, the number of hours worked in a given week may not exceed 168 (in other words, no more than 24 hours a day when working seven days in a row).

De Telegraaf writes that many members of the cabinet voted for the motion; however, their names were not released.

Members of the Royal Netherlands Chess Federation were furious about another premature April Fool’s Day joke. The free newspaper Spits writes that chess players were up in arms after a member of the federation, Willem van der Hulst, announced that before being allowed to take part in upcoming tournament chess players would be tested for doping. The announcement caused such an uproar that Van der Hulst confessed it was a joke a day before 1 April.

Spits comments: "The incident raises two questions: Do chess players have no sense of humour, or are they really just stoned out of their minds?"

Radio Netherlands / Frank Scimone / Expatica

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