Press Review Tuesday, 15 July 2008

15th July 2008, Comments 0 comments

Catch the news in brief from the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.

15 July 2008

Hero’s welcome on first day of work
Ever fantasised about turning up for your new job to a hero's welcome?

It's all in a day's work if you're Dutch football-legend-turned-football-coach Marco van Basten, who reported for duty as coach of Amsterdam football club Ajax Monday.

Beneath its headline "New chapter for Marco van Basten", AD describes how around 5,000 fans were there to greet him at the first training session chanting "Marco! Marco! We’re going to be the champions!"

NRC Handelsblad reports that "with fireworks and song, they let the former player know that they were counting on a league victory".

It looks like the fans have decided to forget Van Basten's recent disappointments. As coach of the Dutch national team, he saw his dreams of European glory shattered in June when the Netherlands romped through the first round of the European Championships only to go crashing out of the competition at the quarter-final stage.

On his return to Amsterdam, however, Van Basten has decided to come out fighting.

Quoted in AD, he makes no bones about his objectives for the coming season: "The league title is all that counts" he insists.

The coach reckons he's not alone in his will to succeed:

"It's high time that Ajax won the league again. You can feel that need, that hunger in every part of the club."

According to Trouw "a tough task awaits the new coach".

But Marco van Basten himself appears undaunted: "It feels good to be back" he grinned.

Smokers and quitters
It's been two weeks since the Netherlands introduced a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants, and the verdict in today's press seems to be: so far, so good. Most Dutch businesses appear to be toeing the line.

De Volkskrant shows a bunch of rather sheepish looking British tourists smoking their joint outside one of Amsterdam's ‘coffee shops’ and reports that, to date, teams of inspectors throughout the land have only had to issue 34 warnings.

The paper goes on to report that an estimated 600,000 smokers made an attempt to give up in the months leading up to the smoking ban - that's three times the number in previous years.

It all sounds very promising but the paper goes on to acknowledge that "usually only between 10 and 15 percent succeed in sticking to a life without tobacco".

Given that statistic, perhaps the authorities might want to rethink the slogan of their forthcoming public health campaign: "In every smoker there's a quitter".

Ransom ruling upsets Dutch
All of today's papers report on the ruling of a Swiss court that orders aid organisation Artsen Zonder Grenzen - the Dutch branch of Doctors Without Borders - to cough up half of the ransom paid for the release of one of its aid workers Arjan Erkel.

Erkel, a Dutch national, was kidnapped in Dagestan in 2002 and only freed 20 months later after EUR 1 million in ransom was paid. The Dutch government always insisted its part of the payment was only an advance.

Trouw gives the response of a "very disappointed" Doctors Without Borders spokesman who blames the Dutch government "for pursuing the case so stubbornly... It's now in black and white that aid organisations have to pay for their abducted workers even if the government has negotiated their release... In future, we will have to take a serious look at how much risk we are prepared to take."
The Dutch Foreign Affairs Ministry says it "not unhappy" with the ruling, in what it regards as a matter of principle. It doesn't want the Dutch to become known as "ransom payers". "A country that pays puts ideas into kidnappers' heads."

So what does the man at the centre of the row think of it all?

According to de Volkskrant, Arjen Erkel is not happy about all this talk of ransom, but apart from that he doesn't want to comment: "I am staying well out of this. It's about what happened to me, not about me as a person."

Riek Schagen - housekeeper to a nation – dies at 94
The papers offer plenty of proof that typecasting needn't be a bad thing. All of them pay tribute to actress Riek Schagen, who died Monday at the ripe old age of 94.

For 10 years, the actress played the character of housekeeper Saartje in the massively popular TV comedy "Swiebertje", a show that has gone on to gain iconic status in the Netherlands.

None of the actors from the series, which ran from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s ever succeeded in shaking off their on-screen persona, so much so that the Dutch refer to typecasting as "the Swiebertje effect".

All of today's papers print photographs of Riek Schagen in her role as Saartje.

De Volkskrant quotes the actress as saying "After a while the character of Saartje became second nature to me."

Art mirrored life to a surprising extent in her career, since she entered the acting profession by working as a housekeeper for a prominent Dutch actor and director.

On its front page, De Telegraaf is full of praise: "She never put on airs and graces. She started out as a housekeeper, and it was as a housekeeper that she stole the hearts of a nation."

Looking back on her career, Riek Schagen herself certainly seems to have had no regrets: "It was a splendid time, a wonderful time."
[Radio Netherlands / David Doherty / Expatica]

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