The Dutch news in September 2004

1st October 2004, Comments 0 comments

The Cabinet giveth and taketh away as it confirms plans to abolish work permits for highly skilled non-EU expats and unveils EUR 2.5 billion in stringent budget cuts. The month also witnessed the death of singing icon Andre Hazes, mass union protests and renewed troubles for the Tokkies.

1 September 2004
Prosecution inquiry clears LPF of fraud allegations 

The public prosecution fails to find any indications of fraud in the finances of the Dutch populist LPF party. The prosecution conducted a preliminary inquiry into possible fraud after a former party executive handed over documents to police in August.

2 September 2004

The smoking ban in cafes is postponed again.

Bar, restaurant smoking ban delayed until 2009 

The Dutch government and the hotel and catering sector agree that no general smoking ban will be imposed on bars, cafes or restaurants until 2009, but smoking will be discouraged as of next year. The four-year plan agreed by the Health Ministry and the branch organisation KHN states that at the end of 2008, all restaurants and 75 percent of bars and nightclubs must have a smoke-free zone. At least 95 percent of hotels must have smoke-free rooms, plus all ice cream shops and 50 percent of snack bars must ban the butt.

2 September 2004
Outspoken right-wing MP quits VVD, goes it alone 

MP Geert Wilders quits the Liberal VVD party in a dispute over his outspoken right-wing views, but opts to remain in the Dutch Parliament as a one-man party. Opinion polls reveal strong support for Wilders, whose policies closely resemble the outspoken statements by anti-immigration politician Pim Fortuyn prior to his murder in May 2002.

3 September 2004

Ayaan Hirsi Ali refuses to be intimidated.

Hirsi Ali goes into hiding

It is reported that Liberal VVD MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali has gone into hiding after her private address in The Hague was placed on an Islamic internet site. She was taken to a safe house and was placed under the protection of the Royal and Diplomatic Protection Service (DKDB). Hirsi Ali and Van Gogh had released a film "Submission" that takes a very critical look at the abuse suffered by some women in Islamic communities.

6 September 2004
Dutch FM sparks row over Russian hostage tragedy

Having sparked a diplomatic row with Russia, Dutch Foreign Minister and European Union President Ben Bot withdraws part of a statement issued in response to the tragic end to the hostage drama in Beslan. Bot had said the EU "wants to know how the tragedy could have occurred", referring to the death of more than 300 people. The comment sparked the ire of the Russian government.

6 September 2004
Population growth heading for 100-year low  

The Dutch population could grow by just 0.2 percent this year, the lowest figure since 1900, the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) reports. The CBS attributes the figures to a strong decline in immigration and a rise in the rate of emigration. The Dutch population could grow by less than 30,000 this year, representing 0.2 percent in growth and the lowest rate recorded since 1900.

6 September 2004
Netherlands wants only 'brainiest' non-EU academics  

Education State Secretary Mark Rutte unveils budget cuts affectively restricting the entry of only the best non-European Union students and professors. Instead of paying individual student subsidies to higher education institutes, the academics will instead be placed in a scholarship scheme. But the funding will be significantly reduced from the present EUR 25 million each year to just EUR 10 million from 2006. The funding paid to higher education institutes for EU students remains unchanged.

7 September 2004

Balkenende feels Europe should unite around core values.

Values to unite 'divided' Europeans 

Asking if people still dare to believe in a European dream, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said the EU should work towards common European values to truly unite the community. Speaking at the start of the conference "The Politics of European Values" in The Hague, the Dutch leader says EU member states should not only co-operate economically, but also disseminate European values.
7 September 2004
Donner approves extradition of PKK 'terrorist' 

Dutch Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner decides to extradite Kurdish PKK leader Nuriye Kesbir to Turkey, where she is wanted on terrorist charges. Donner has received a guarantee from Turkey that Kesbir will be given a fair trial. Kesbir is to appeal against the decision and if the legal bid fails, the final step will be to take the matter to the European Court of Human Rights.

7 September 2004
Antillean election-winner Godett arrested  

Antillean politician and convicted criminal Anthony Godett is arrested in the Netherlands Antilles on suspicion he is a member of a criminal organisation. The leader of the FOL political party is also accused of involvement in alleged crimes  committed by party colleague, former Antillean justice minister Ben Komproe, who was arrested for the unlawful issuing of residence permits to prostitutes.

7 September 2004

The Borssele nuclear reactor... a terrorist target?

Terrorists 'planning to hit Schiphol, Dutch Parliament' 

The Justice Ministry suspects terrorists have drawn up plans for attacks on the Dutch Parliament, Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, the Borssele nuclear reactor, the Defence Ministry and the Leidschendam office of the AIVD secret service. The revelations are based on the file compiled on suspected terrorist 18-year-old Samir A., who was arrested at the end of June by Rotterdam police. The man's arrest led the Dutch government to issue a terror warning on 9 July.

8 September 2004
Dutch frustration over sale of stolen heritage 

Historic Dutch shares and bonds from the Dutch East Indies Company stolen from the Amsterdam Council in the 1980s are to be publicly auctioned in Germany on 2 and 3 October. But Dutch justice authorities cannot take any action because the crimes have exceeded the statute of limitations. The documents are now in the hands of a German antique dealer, who is prepared to remove them from the auction, if Amsterdam is prepared to compensate him for his initial investment. The council indicates it is negotiating with the dealer.

10 September 2004
Dutch abortion ship returns home after tense standoff 
The Dutch abortion ship heads for home after failing to gain entry to Portuguese territorial waters. The floating abortion clinic operated by pro-choice group Women on Waves has been stranded in international waters off the Portuguese coast since 27 August when the Portuguese navy assigned to block the ship entry to its territory. Prior to the ship leaving, organisation founder Rebecca Gomperts appears on Portuguese television to explain how women can have self-induced abortions with readily available medicine at many pharmacists. The ship arrives home on 14 September.

10 September 2004
Friso 'could have retained rights to throne' 
Prince Johan Friso could have retained his rights to the throne and still marry his disgraced fiancée Mabel had he chosen to enter into a registered partnership rather than marriage, a Dutch legal expert claims. The Dutch Constitution states that a possible future monarch must gain permission from the Parliament to marry. But the constitution says nothing about registered partnerships. Prince Friso lost his rights to the throne in marrying Mabel in Delft in April amid furore the couple lied about Mabel's past relationship with drugs baron Klaas Bruinsma.

14 September 2004
Secret arrests as Dutch terror threat 'worse than thought' 

The Netherlands is facing a far larger and more organised threat from Islamic terrorists than previously thought, it is reported. One source said the Dutch authorities are conducting at least 15 investigations into planned attacks. A day after news broke that Dutch police investigating Islamic terrorism had arrested four people in July, reports emerged that more terrorist suspects had been arrested than previously revealed.

14 September 2004
Teens sentenced for raping underage girls 

Rotterdam Court imposes youth detention on four male teenagers for sexually abusing a group of underage girls in one of the largest gang rape cases of its kind in Dutch legal history. The defendants — aged between 14 and 17 — will be on probation for two years after they are released. The teens regularly sexually abused a group of girls aged from 13 to 15 since the summer of 2003. Six girls lodged criminal complaints after being raped.

14 September 2004
Plan to lift ban on North Sea windmills 

Dutch Economic Affairs Minister Laurens Jan Brinkhorst plans to lift the ban on windmill energy parks in the North Sea by the end of the year. The government hopes windmill parks in the North Sea will generate 6,000 megawatt of electricity by 2020. Combined with 1,500 megawatt on land, windmills could supply power to all 6 million Dutch households all year round.

14 September 2004
Balkenende laid low by foot infection 

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende is admitted to hospital on Tuesday for treatment of an aggressive foot infection. He eventually undergoes two operations and misses the presentation of the 2005 Budget on 21 September. Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm assumes Balkenende's responsibilities.

14 September 2004
Suicide-threat man wanted access to children

A man douses himself with petrol and threatens to commit suicide at the central train station in The Hague. Police evacuate the station and train traffic is shut down. The man is arrested a short while later. He is identified as a 35-year-old Romanian man demanding access to his child or children in Spain.

15 September 2004
A2 motorway expansion blocked as 'unsafe' 

The Dutch Council of State blocks the planned expansion of the A2 motorway between Den Bosch and Eindhoven on grounds that safety could not be adequately guaranteed. The Transport Ministry had planned to widen the motorway from two to three lanes by narrowing the existing lanes and using the emergency stopping lane as a peak-hour lane.

15 September 2004

Expat Shopping no more.

Expat Shopping closes down suddenly 
In an exclusive report, Expatica reveals that the company that claimed to provide 13.5 million expats around the world with their favourite food from Britain, Expat Shopping, has closed down.

15 September 2004
Verdonk faces damages claim over IND delays  

Fed up with delays from the immigration service IND, the Amsterdam Council threatens to sue Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk for hundreds of thousands of euros. An IND computer glitch delaying the issuing of residence permits is preventing thousands of new immigrants in Amsterdam from starting their compulsory integration course. Amsterdam demands that Minister Verdonk take adequate measures by 15 October or face a damages claim.

15 September 2004
Budget leak: Dutch public, royals must pay 

A leaked version of the 2005 Budget indicates that almost everyone from the lowliest Dutch citizen to the royal household will have to tighten their belts a further notch next year. RTL News scoops the rest of the Dutch media by leaking the budget report.

17 September 2004
Suspects in imprisonment case released 

The two people accused of keeping two sisters aged 16 and 19 prisoner in their home for a year or more are released after a court in The Hague rules there are insufficient grounds to warrant their continued detention. But the prosecution claims the 48-year-old father and the 21-year-old brother of the two girls are still suspected of unlawful imprisonment and attempted serious assault. The mother had earlier been released shortly after her arrest on 6 August.

17 September 2004
AH fires new salvo as Dutch supermarkets battle it out 

Dutch supermarkets Albert Heijn (AH) and Super De Boer announce they are reducing their prices further in the most radical cost cutting action since the supermarket war started at the end of October last year. AH says it will cut prices on about 1,000 own brand products by 10 to 60 euro cents and Super De Boer confirms it will follow AH's lead.

20 September 2004
Royals fight gossip over 'marriage troubles' 

Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Maxima announce they are investigating whether legal action can be taken against gossip magazines in the Netherlands and Germany after they published articles suggesting the royal couple was having marital problems.

20 September 2004
Mass protest in Rotterdam against Dutch budget cuts  

The centre of Rotterdam almost grinds to a standstill as up to 60,000 people participate in a joint union protest against the Dutch government's socio-economic plans. Public transport stopped and public servants and port workers went out on strike. Trade union confederations FNV, CNV and MHP also staged a joint protest in front of city hall.

20 September 2004
Minister wants 'green card' for expat workers 

Economic Affairs Minister Jan Laurens Brinkhorst confirms he wants to introduce a "green card" system to make it easier for skilled expats to come to the Netherlands to work. He said the system — similar to that used by the immigration service in the US — would focus entry requirements firmly on the profession of the foreigner and the labour needs of Dutch industry sectors.

20 September 2004
Dutch ease entry process for highly skilled expats  

The Netherlands is set to abolish work permits for potential non-EU expats earning more than EUR 45,000 a year. The change — which is due to come into force on 1 October — means that these expats will instead be issued with a residence permit lasting five years. The move is part of the Dutch government's plan to ease the entry process for skilled expats to stimulate the "knowledge economy".

Nordin ben Salah

20 September 2004 
 Champion boxer shot dead in Amsterdam 

Former world champion boxer Nordin ben Salah, 32, is shot and killed on the President Kennedylaan in Amsterdam at about 10pm. Police suspect the killing might have been a gangland hit, but participants in a silent march in honour of him on 25 September deny the boxer had any links to crime.

21 September 2004
Dutch singles 'undersexed and dissatisfied' 
Dutch singles do not get much sex and they are not very happy about it, according to a survey. The survey by online magazine MVlife found that 46 percent of the 1,000 respondents (male and female) rated their sex live as average, while just 18 percent of men and 15 percent of women said their sex life was good.
21 September 2004
Endstra 'hired Hells Angels boss for gangland hit' 

Murdered property tycoon Willem Endstra had recruited Amsterdam Hells Angels President "Big Willem" van Boxtel to kill Freddie Heineken kidnapper Willem Holleeder, it is claimed. A Hells Angels lawyer asserts that Big Willem was expelled from the motorcycle club recently after he allegedly confessed the murder plot. He and two other suspects are arrested, but later released due to a lack of evidence. The prosecution appeals against the ruling, but Big Willem's lawyer denies the ex-Hells Angel was contracted in to kill Holleeder.

21 September 2004

Queen Beatrix

Queen: reforms for confidence, growth, security  

The ambitious reforms planned by the Dutch Cabinet for next year will be supported by the beginning of an economic recovery and will lead to "renewed confidence and perspective", Queen Beatrix says. Speaking during her annual Speech from the Throne in the Knights Hall in The Hague, the Dutch monarch said the reforms are aimed at strengthening the economy, building a safe society and a more decisive government and a good functioning democracy.

21 September 2004
Zalm: economy improving, but more reforms needed 

Unveiling the 2005 Budget, Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm reveals 2.5 billion in cuts to reduce the budget deficit to 2.6 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and forecasts modest economic growth of 1.25 percent in 2004 and 1.5 percent next year. The Liberal VVD minister stressed the need to push through further reforms to prevent the current economic "flu" from becoming a "chronic" illness. Despite this, Zalm believes the worst of the economic troubles are over.

23 September 2004
Police chief: Amsterdam is EU crime and drugs capital 

Amsterdam is the crime capital of the European Union, the city's police chief claims. Commissioner Joop van Riessen said criminals were attracted to Amsterdam thanks to its prominent economic role in Europe and the rest of the world, describing Amsterdam also as the "number one drug city" in the EU.

23 September 2004
Amsterdam crooner Andre Hazes dies 

Years of alcohol took their toll.

Andre Hazes, one of the best-loved Dutch crooners, dies of a heart attack in hospital in Woerden. He was 53. Hazes was a diabetic and battled with alcoholism for several years. An estimated 40,000 attend a farewell concert on 27 September at the Amsterdam ArenA, where Hazes was laid out in state. Some 5 million watch the concert live on television. Hazes is cremated after a private ceremony at the Westgaarde cemetery in Amsterdam the next day.

23 September 2004
Dutch counter-terror plans come under fire 

MPs criticise the measures announced by the Dutch government to prevent terrorist attacks, calling for more information about the new colour-code alert system. They also want to know who exactly would be in charge in times of emergency. The Cabinet has drawn up plans under which Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner would assume overall control of several government departments such as the Interior Ministry during an emergency.

24 September 2004
Cabinet split on Antillean entry-expulsion plan 

Plans to crackdown on Antillean delinquents by restricting their entry to the Netherlands and deporting criminal teens back to the Caribbean state are temporarily shelved after divisions opened up within the Dutch Cabinet. The cabinet decides instead to set up a commission of Antillean and Dutch experts to investigate how best to tackle the problem of Antillean delinquents and immigration from the Netherlands Antilles.

27 September 2004
Unions claim success on Amsterdam battleground 

More than 10,000 protestors demonstrate on Dam Square in Amsterdam against the Dutch government's budget cuts, but the feared chaos after public transport staff went on strike for the day did not materialise. Trade union confederation chiefs Lodewijk de Waal (FNV) and Doekle Terpstra (CNV) claim the rolling protest campaign proves the public supports union demands. The unions are campaigning against cuts to social security and healthcare.

28 September 2004

Emile Ratelband's matra for success is 'Tjakkaaaaa!'

'Mr Positive' finds house hunting isn't easy  

The promise by motivational guru Emile Ratelband to buy a home for Amsterdam's most famous misfit family, the Tokkies, is verging on a fiasco. Financial inquiries have found that Ratelband's various companies have limited credit worthiness and he is refusing to personally become guarantor for a possible purchase. The Tokkies have been without a home since being evicted in January after a feud with neighbours got out of hand in August 2003.

29 September 2004
Greenpeace protests arrival of nuclear waste

Police remove 11 Greenpeace activists who had chained themselves to a storage depot in Vlissingen in protest at the first return transport of recycled nuclear waste from France. The waste will be stored for at least 100 years at a new depot operated by the Central Organisation for Radioactive Waste (COVRA) in Vlissingen.

28 September 2004
Kroes wins backing from EP commission 

The economic and monetary commission of the European Parliament backs the candidacy of former Dutch government minister Neelie Kroes for the European Commission's competition portfolio. But the commission still wants to study the legal advice from the EC over how Kroes should act when required to give rulings on companies she has previously been involved with. Kroes has been under fire for alleged illegal conduct and threatened conflicts of interest, but tells the commission that her experience is a trump card.

29 September 2005
Amsterdam at threat as 5th best business city 

Amsterdam has again been ranked as the fifth most popular city for business, but the Dutch capital is in danger of being overtaken by Barcelona and Madrid. The top four cities in the 15th European Cities Monitor (ECM) were London, Paris, Frankfurt and Brussels.

30 September 2004
Unions lukewarm over EUR 1bn budget revamp 

The FNV trade union confederation reacts unenthusiastically to the Dutch government's acceptance of a plan which would reduce the cutbacks in next year's budget by EUR 1.1 billion. Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm unveiled EUR 2.5 billion in cuts on 21 September, but at the close of the debate about the 2005 Budget in Parliament on 29 September, Zalm indicates his willingness to accept the compromise plan but forward by MPs of his Liberal VVD and the two other government coalition partners, the Christian Democrat CDA and Democrat D66.

30 September 2004
F-16s escort 'terror' plane to Schiphol 

A British Airways plane, escorted by two Dutch F-16 fighter planes, makes an unscheduled landing at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport on Thursday after a bomb threat. The BA Airbus 319 was carrying 118 passengers and crew and landed safely. The plane was later given the all-clear and flew on to Heathrow. The airplane's 118 passengers — who were screened at the airport — arrived in London on a separate plane.

30 September 2004
Police officer shot dead 

A 47-year-old policeman is shot and killed in Enschede and a second policeman, 30, is seriously wounded in the attack. Police arrest a 45-year-old German accused of the shooting. It is alleged he was involved in a drugs deal shortly before the shooting occurred.

30 September 2004
Dozens injured as intercity collides with freight train 

Up to 40 people are injured when an intercity train collides with a freight train at the Roosendaal station shortly before 6pm. Some of the injured victims suffer broken bones and head wounds, but most people were only slightly hurt. The Transport and Public Works Inspectorate and the Transport Safety Council launch investigations.

1 October 2004

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[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news

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