Dutch defence minister apologises

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Eimert van Middelkoop regrets telling a newspaper that he was pleased to avoid military service.

25 September 2008

AMSTERDAM -- Dutch Defence Minister Eimert van Middelkoop says he regrets telling a national publication that he was pleased to avoid serving in the army as a young man.

The minister's comments, published in Vrij Nederland, caused widespread anger and outraged members of the Dutch Armed Forces. The chairman of the AFMP military union said the remarks confirmed his view that the minister is "the wrong man, at the wrong time, in the wrong position".

In response to MPs' demands for clarification, Minister van Middelkoop said he regretted his comments. In a letter to the Lower House of Parliament, he said that if he wasn’t given a waiver, he would have served. He was registered as an indispensable party worker for the GPV, an earlier version of the Christian Union, a member of the present governing coalition.

The opposition VVD and D66 parties, who both severely criticised Mr van Middelkoop, are satisfied with the minister's explanation, but said he will have to work hard to regain the military's confidence.

[Radio Netherlands / Expatica]

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