Former Dutch Defence Minister Ter Beek dies

30th September 2008, Comments 0 comments

Ter Beek, who ended the draft and sent Dutch troops to Bosnia, died of cancer Monday at age 64.

30 September 2008

THE HAGUE -- Former Dutch Defence Minister Relus ter Beek, who ended the draft and sent troops to a disastrous United Nations peacekeeping mission in Bosnia, died Monday of lung cancer at age 64, the government announced.

Ter Beek was defence minister from 1989-1994 in a centrist coalition led by Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers. Entering office as the Berlin Wall fell, he restructured the Dutch military after the Cold War, including ending the draft.

"The fact that we have a modern, professional military that can quickly be deployed anywhere in the world — and where there is no place for conscripts — is partly thanks to the vision of Relus ter Beek", current Defence Minister Eimert van Middelkoop said.

Ter Beek, a longtime member of the Labour Party, also sent Dutch troops to the first Gulf War and to eastern Bosnia as part of the UN peacekeeping force in the safe area of Srebrenica.

After Ter Beek left office, the overwhelmed Dutch peacekeepers did nothing as Bosnian Serbs took over the area in July 1995 and murdered 8,000 Muslim men in Europe's worst massacre since the Holocaust.

After leaving national politics, Ter Beek returned to the eastern Dutch province of Drenthe where he was born, and accepted the largely ceremonial position of the queen's representative in the province from 1995 until his death.

Ter Beek is survived by his wife and two children. Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.

[AP / Expatica]

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