Press Review Friday 6 August 2010

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Diamonds are not always a girl’s best friend, sometimes they just look like dirty pebbles. Geert Wilders will be allowed to sit in on coalition talks, while conservative VVD leader Mark Rutte intends to put the Joint Strike Fighter on ice. Tripoli plane tragedy relatives are offered compensation and footballers should be paid less.

Diamonds are not always a girl’s best friend Diamonds are supposed to be a girl’s best friend, but they forced British top model Naomi Campbell into court yesterday as a reluctant witness against former Liberian president Charles Taylor.

Many of the papers carry pictures of the model in a modest cream-colour outfit in court. Trouw reports that her appearance led to a media frenzy and her diva behaviour caused both irritation for being fashionably late and hilarity in court.

The 40-year-old top model was summoned to witness in the trial against Charles Taylor for war crimes and crimes against humanity as she had allegedly received uncut diamonds from the accused following a benefit dinner in South Africa. De Volkskrant prints a photo of Ms Campbell standing next to Mr Taylor at the event hosted by Nelson Mandela. Later two men knocked at her bedroom door and handed her what she thought were pebbles. The model explained that she was used to seeing “shiny diamonds in a box”. This led to laughter on the public tribune. As did her comment that she had never heard of Liberia in 1997. Ms Campbell explained it was “normal for her to receive gifts” at all times of the day and night without a note saying who they were from.

The point of calling Ms Campbell up as a witness was to establish whether Charles Taylor had been in possession of blood diamonds from Sierre Leone. But to the frustration of the prosecution, Ms Campbell was unable to confirm this. At breakfast she agreed with an assumption made by actress Mia Farrow and agent Carol White that Charles Taylor was the sender. Apparently this version of events does not match that of Ms White. Ms Farrow and Ms White are due to testify on Monday.

It’s doubtful whether Ms Campbell’s appearance helped the prosecution, but it did give the case some free international publicity.

Freedom party to sit in on coalition talks Geert Wilders will be sitting in on the coalition talks between the conservative VVD and the Christian Democrats report many of the papers. According to AD, he does not have to support all the policies, but he will promise not to bring down the government with a motion of no confidence. In the so-called tolerance agreement issues such as immigration, integration, asylum, law and order and care of the elderly will be dealt with. Matters on which the Freedom Party holds outspoken opinions.

In de Volkskrant, mediator Ivo Opstelten explains that the Freedom Party has to sit at the negotiation table to make sure there are no issues in the government agreement which he objects to. He even expects the far-right party leader to have a say in which ministers are appointed, something his predecessor Ruud Lubbers did not expect to happen. In its analysis, concludes that Geert Wilders is becoming more and more powerful. A cartoon in de Volkskrant shows Christian Democrat leader Maxime Verhagen being chauffeur-driven by Geert Wilders.

The talks are expected to take three weeks. Each party leader will be assisted by a second person. De Volkskrant analyses Geert Wilders choice of Freedom Party faction leader in the European parliament Barry Madlener. The paper calls him the nicest guy in the Freedom Party. He is not particularly intellectual or knowledgeable on policy matters, but he is amicable. More importantly he is unlikely to contradict Mr Wilders, who wants to avoid any backbiting as much as possible. The paper quotes one comment he made as an MP. “Climate change? We’re facing a plague of polar bears.”

Joint Strike Fighter put on ice De Volkskrant reports that VVD leader Mark Rutte has already decided against the acquisition of the US-made Joint Strike Fighter JSF during the next four years. Without a parliamentary majority to support the deal, the decision will be put on ice until after the next elections. Although parliamentary sources say Mr Rutte is in favour of buying a second test plane to secure Dutch participation in the project.

According to the paper, Mark Rutte is aware that spending more than 6 billion euros on dozens of fighter planes at a time when three times this amount in cuts have to be made in healthcare, education and social security will not go down well with voters. And besides the conservative VVD, which once said it would purchase the JSF “whatever it costs”, cannot bank on the support of Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party – which strongly opposes the deal. The Christian Democrats are the only other large party in favour of buying JSF planes.

The issue almost brought down Balkenende’s fourth cabinet last year. Coalition partner the Labour Party eventually gave up its opposition to the deal on the condition that no definitive decision would be taken until 2012.

Plane tragedy relatives offered compensation Relatives of the victims of last May’s Tripoli plane crash have been offered 75,000 euros in compensation from the Afriqiyah Airlines. According to AD, experts have advised the families to turn down the offer.

A legal expert from Dutch motoring organisation ANWB tells the paper that compensation should depend on a number of factors, whether or not a victim leaves behind dependents such children who are studying for instance. In the Airbus 330 crash near Tripoli airport on 12 May, 103 people were killed, 70 of them were Dutch nationals.

Two months ago the airline already paid out 20,000 euros per victim to the relatives to cover costs likes mortgages and insurance. The ANWB recommends not accepting any money until it is clear who is responsible for the accident: the French plane manufacturer, the Libyan air traffic controllers, the US plane parts suppliers. When that becomes clear then it can be determined which country’s law applies. “Once you say ‘yes’, you give up all your other rights,” says the ANWB expert.

Footballers should be paid less Footballers might have to give up their expensive cars and jetset lifestyle. In a survey by De Telegraaf, 73 percent of readers said their pay should be brought back to the same level as the prime minister 187,000 euros a year. A player like Luis Suarez, for instance, is believed to take home 100,000 euros per month.

On the forum page, one reader says cutting salaries is the only way to save football clubs which are in severe dire straights at the moment. Club costs are spiralling out of control and as a result there are only five financially healthy clubs in the premier league.

One of the problems is that to stay in the international competition clubs spend too much acquiring and paying players. Failure means they lose out on funds. So clubs keep paying more for players even when doing so is financially irresponsible. Apparently 53 percent of readers believer there is a future for Dutch football if pay is cut and the industry concentrates on producing more home-grown talent. Above the article is a photo of HFC Haarlem one of the Netherlands’ oldest professional clubs, which went bankrupt in January.  

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