RNW Dutch Press Review - 22 February 2008

22nd February 2008, Comments 0 comments

A roundup of today's press from Radio Netherlands.

 Press review 22 February 2008
The revelations published yesterday regarding bribes received by the late Dutch  Prince Consort in the 1960s and '70s continue to make the headlines of today's papers. It was already known that Prince Bernhard had received bribes from the US aircraft manufacturer Lockheed, but a book published yesterday disclosed that another aircraft company, Northrop, gave the prince 750.000 dollars. The affair was covered up by the then prime minister Joop den Uyl because former Queen Juliana threatened to abdicate and her daughter, Beatrix, allegedly said that under those circumstances she would not ascend the throne.

House of cards
Politicians from Den Uyl's Labour Party have expressed understanding for his decision to cover up the affair. As one senior Labour politician put it, if he hadn't "the whole house of cards would have collapsed". De Telegraaf writes that the Dutch parliamentarians have reacted unenthusiastically to the revelations. It quotes one MP as saying "it's old news", but the opposition Green Left party has asked for clarifications from the prime minister. It believes that a secret addendum to a report on the Lockheed affair, which contains the revelations, should now be published. The editorialist of de Volkskrant agrees: it was understandable that Joop den Uyl wanted to avoid a constitutional crisis, but he shouldn't have given in to the threats made by Queen Juliana or her daughter.
Average scores
On its front page, Algemeen Dagblad publishes the photos of six Dutch men and women holding a score card in their hands, with figures ranging from 0 to 7. All a bit mysterious? Well, the six citizens are ranking the performance of the current Dutch government which has been in power exactly one year today. The average, according to a survey commissioned by the paper, is 6. "The government is not listening closely enough to the average person", believes the paper.

Most people cannot identify with the government's main policies, such as trying to improve disadvantaged neighbourhoods or the plans to make motorists pay for every kilometre they drive. The prime minister admits that many of the current policies are not popular, but he believes that this will change in the coming years.
Iran's irritation
Trouw reports on its front page that relations between the Netherlands and Iran are likely to take a sharp turn for the worse with the release of an anti-Islamic film by Dutch MP Geert Wilders. "The average Iranian citizen has a romantic image of Holland," writes the paper, "perhaps because all Iranian textbooks included a picture of the flowers at the renowned Keukenhof spring gardens".

But Mr Wilders' upcoming film, which made headline news both on Iranian television and in the national press, has undermined that rosy picture. On Monday, writes Trouw, 215 out of the 219 members of the Iranian parliament called on the country's president to review relations with the Netherlands. NRC Handelsblad, for its part, analyses the steps Iran could take when the film is released: they include a trade boycott, demonstrations, or even the issuing of a fatwa or religious edict against Geert Wilders.
Army extras
Algemeen Dagblad publishes a curious story on its front page. The paper reports that dozens of Dutchmen of Arab origin are furious at a German company which is hiring extras. Why? Well, the Dutchmen thought they were trying out for a movie, but in fact, the German company was looking for Arabs to spend weeks at a US military training ground in Germany. The base has been built to simulate an Iraqi village to prepare US troops being posted there. When the Dutchmen arrived for the casting at a hotel in Rotterdam, they heard the full story, and many of them walked out in disgust. The paper quotes one man who said, "they really don't think that I'm going to take part in the occupation of an Arab country, do they?"
And to end today's review of the Dutch press, a storm in a teacup: de Volkskrant reports that the Dutch College of Arms is furious about the design of the new official logo of the Netherlands. According to the College of Arms the 60.000 euro design doesn't do justice to the Netherlands as a monarchy. The College says the three lions in the logo are not virile enough; their nails and tongues are too small, and the middle lion isn't wearing a crown. The government department which asked for the College of Arms' opinion has taken the criticism to heart, writes de Volkskrant. It's going to make the lions look more ferocious and macho.

[Copyright Radio Netherlands 2008]

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