RNW Dutch Press Review - 18 February 2008
A roundup of today's press from Radio Netherlands.
Trouw and De Volkskrant report on a secret military operation in the Afghan province of Uruzgan that began last weekend. The joint US-Afghan-Dutch mission, codenamed Patan Ghar, is meant to drive the Taliban out of areas around Deh Rawod, where three hundred Dutch soldiers are stationed in camp Hadrian. The camp has become surrounded by Taliban since last September.
The Ministry of Defence is avoiding using the word offensive and calling the operation a coordinated mission. It began with a parachute landing operation by the 82nd Airbourne division on Saturday evening. This week Dutch and Afghan troops will comb the area. More than a thousand troops are taking part in the operation.
"It looks like we caught them off guard" says Colonel Richard van Harskamp after little resistance was put up on Sunday. Many Afghans have returned to their homes in recent weeks after being driven out by heavy fighting last year. The ultimate objective of the mission, which is likely to last for many months, is to reinforce and to build more police posts to keep the Taliban out.
De Volkskrant and NRC.Next both carry stories on an inquiry by the Coronel Committee which recommends taking Amsterdam's football club Ajax off the stock exchange. NRC.next pictures Ajax in better times with Patrick Kluivert holding the Champions League cup above his head in 1995. Since then it has been downhill for the club. Expensive transfers and the setting up of foreign football schools drained the club of funds without producing the desired results: a winning team. Since 1997, Ajax has seen nine trainers come and go.
The committee also criticises the club's managing director and says he should have a football background; the current managing director Maarten Fontein used to manage food company Unilever. The Coronel report recommends finding a new balance "between being a professional organisation and a football club". There is some hope for the future of the club as the committee commends the organisation of the youth training.
The Dutch Minister for the Environment and Planning, Jacqueline Cramer, has got herself in a bit of a twist over windmills. The problem is she's wearing two caps. As environment minister she praises an initiative to build four large windmills in Utrecht Province along the A12 motorway. But as planning minister she's against the location being near a residential area.
The windmills would produce enough energy for more than five thousand homes, that is a reduction of ten thousand tons of CO2 emissions every year, which goes a quarter of the way to reaching the provincial CO2 target. Today she will visit the site to explain her position.
A spokesperson for the ministry says this dilemma is a common problem. "It means that large windmill parks will have to be built around the country." The minister wants the provinces to develop their own plans to meet government targets for a fifth of energy to come from sustainable sources by 2020.
Mirjam de Rijk of the Nature and Environment foundation thinks "it's all a bit hypocritical to complain about windmills after so many huge buildings have been built in the area in recent years."
De Volkskrant reports on the phenomenon of Loverboys, who prey on vulnerable girls on their way to secondary schools and gradually turn them into prostitutes. The police prefer to call the boys who are often of Moroccan, Antillean and African descent, pimps.
One detective says "you could call it organised crime". The loverboys know one another, and work as a group with a hierarchy. A pilot project in the eastern Netherlands has been able to prevent 80 percent of Loverboy's victims actually working in prostitution. But in spite of the success there have been few convictions, as the girls do not like to press charges. According to De Volkskrant only eleven cases have been prosecuted to date.
According to De Volkskrant 104-year-old Johan Heesters got a standing ovation at a final concert in his home town Amersfoort after a 40 years absence. Mr Heesters' return to the Netherlands has been shrouded in controversy. He is accused of being a Nazi sympathiser during the Second World War. He performed throughout the war in Nazi Germany and visited the concentration camp Dachau. He was even one of Hitler's favourite singers.
The operetta singer had one last ambition: to sing in his home country. Trouw describes the concert as a "Glorious comeback". The only eggs to be thrown were outside the theatre, where a few dozen anti-fascist protesters held a demonstration.
[Copyright Radio Netherlands 2008]
Subject: Dutch news