PM not worried about Dutch standing in NATO
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte says he is not worried about the Netherlands’ standing in the NATO alliance now that it has not yet been able to provide clarity regarding a possible Dutch training mission to Afghanistan. He said the Netherlands had already done a lot over the past years.
“I’m not ashamed of anything”, Mr Rutte said in Lisbon on Friday afternoon, just hours ahead of a two-day NATO summit in the Portuguese capital. The prime minister emphasised that the Netherlands had supplied 2,000 troops during a four-year period. In light of the Dutch commitment to Afghanistan, he did not regard the Dutch standing in NATO as diminished.
However, Mr Rutte did say he regretted not being able to commit to a new mission to Afghanistan. He pointed to the political situation in The Hague, where the minority VVD-CDA coalition is looking for parliamentary support for a new mission, which would focus on training Afghan police officers.
The prime minister mentioned two reasons to remain active in Afghanistan. He said he wanted to “do justice to the huge effort which has already been made”. He spoke of a huge investment which must be consolidated to ensure the effort “had not been made in vain”. He added that it would be desirable to make a contribution to stability in the region, also because of Dutch domestic security.
Rutte showed himself optimistic about the outcome of the NATO summit, at which the alliance is to adopt a new strategic concept. He called the summit “ very exciting” because the alliance will for the first time define how we should deal with new threats such as terrorism, cyber attacks and the risk of nuclear arms falling in the wrong hands.
The prime minister said the new NATO vision would clearly reflect the Dutch input. He pointed to the Dutch policy in Afghanistan which is based on development, defence and diplomacy contacts with local officials. “We have every reason to be proud of it”, said the PM, who called NATO “Our insurance policy for peace and security".
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