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Home News Di Rupo and Rutte: thorny issues handled with courtesy

Di Rupo and Rutte: thorny issues handled with courtesy

Published on 19/01/2012

Federal Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo PS did not travel too far on his first state visit as he met with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte VVD. As some diplomats feared the two would struggle to understand each other, the Dutch Prime Minister appointed interpreters, but they were not to interfere. “The Prime Minister’s Dutch is good,” Rutte mentioned afterwards. “Talks were conducted entirely in Dutch.” And that includes the tricky issues, such as the Hedwige Polder. The Scheldt Treaties stipulate that the polder on Dutch soil should be flooded and turned into a natural area, but the Netherlands are taking their time to decide and are even considering an alternative; to the  dissatisfaction of the government of Flanders, who see it as a violation of the Treaty. Di Rupo stressed that the Treaties should be carried out without delay and he insisted just like Flanders that the Netherlands come up with a solution. "Treaties should be honoured,” said the Belgian Prime Minister. Rutte reiterated that the Netherlands were in talks with Europe on an alternative, saying: “We will meet our obligations, but via another arrangement.” The Netherlands promised to respond to Belgian criticism by the end of January. Flanders expects 250 to 785 million euros in damages if the polder is not flooded. Rutte nevertheless denied that they have received any Flemish claims, and ended the meeting by very gallantly helping Di Rupo put on his coat when he became entangled.