Wilders in confrontation with immigration minister
Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders has lashed out at Immigration Minister Gerd Leers after the minister in Brussels voted in favour of lifting the visa requirement for Albanians and Bosnians.
Even though the government was actually opposed to the move, the minister voted in favour because the Netherlands stood alone on the issue. In a first confrontation between the minority centre-right government and the party it relies on for parliamentary support, Geert Wilders labelled the minister's decision "extremely weak" and accused the minister of making "confused statements".
In a reaction the minister said that there was no point in voting against the EU proposal, which "was a done deal when I arrived in Brussels... our opposition would have been voted down." Instead the minister decided to limit the damage: in exchange for his yes-vote, an 'emergency-brake' procedure will be put in place. The visa requirement will be re-introduced in case large numbers of Albanians and Bosnians settle in the Netherlands.
Mr Leers said he will "seek dialogue". The cabinet wants to tighten immigration policies and needs to amend five European laws to do so. "The Netherlands should not become a pariah in Europe. I am not going to make a whole series of radical proposals which would never stand a chance because we would be on our own."
Geert Wilders was angered by the minister's statements and, apparently, confused: "A very weak performance. He should have voted against, of course. And, for starters, he should have arrived in Brussels in time to influence the debate. The outcome is now a very bad one: opening our borders, absolutely nobody in the Netherlands wants that. And I'm not clear on what he means when he talks about 'pariah' and 'radical proposals'; these are confused statements."
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