"Fitna poses no immediate danger to soldiers"
Defence minister says soldiers in Afghanistan are not at a higher risk because of the anti-Koran film expected from Geert Wilders.11 March 2008
CANBERRA – The Dutch soldiers stationed in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan are not at an immediate risk of falling victim to attacks because of Geert Wilders' anti-Koran film.
Defence Minister Eimert van Middelkoop said this in the Australian capital of Canberra on Tuesday. Wilders film was discussed during a talk Van Middelkoop held today with his Australian counterpart Joel Fitzgibbon.
"I made it clear to him and the Foreign Affairs minister that the film is an irresponsible act of provocation and that the Dutch government does not share Wilders' viewpoint," Van Middelkoop said.
He said that the Australian government members understand that freedom of expression is highly valued in a free democracy.
Secretary-general of NATO Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said last week that he expected soldiers would be at higher risk because of Wilders' film. The Taliban has already indicated that it will use the film to sow unrest among the population in southern Afghanistan.
"The soldiers are not at any immediate risk," Van Middelkoop said. "We will be alert, just like the Australians, but our first concern is to explain this difficult situation clearly to the authorities, both in Australia and Afghanistan."
The Australians share De Hoop Scheffer's concern and are worried they could become the victim of Taliban actions aimed against Dutch troops in Uruzgan.
Fitzgibbon indicated earlier that Australia is keeping a close eye on national and international developments and will coordinate security measures in response to such developments.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2008]