Expatica news

PM: Netherlands will be forever Christian

13 September 2004

AMSTERDAM — Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende believes that the Christian identity of the Netherlands is everlasting and Dutch culture will exist forever despite the pressures exerted by “outside influences”.

“Even if no one goes to the church anymore, that doesn’t mean that you rub out Christian roots. In that sense, we remain a Christian land,” Balkenende said.

In an interview with newspaper NRC Handelsblad about European unity and the influence of history and migration, the Christian Democrat CDA leader said.

“Dutch singularity, Dutch culture will always exist” despite “influences from outside”.

Balkenende also said the preservation of the Dutch character is not at odds with his opinion that Europe is an entity of the common values. It was an issue he addressed when speaking in The Hague last week at the start of a series of debates on European values.

Currently European Union President, the Dutch prime minister said the integration of Europe should be based on a model of integration allowing the preservation of national identity. The Cabinet is following this line of policy.

In an historic and strategic manner, Balkenende considers the admission of Turkey into the EU as an advantage. He said Islam belongs among the historic roots of European civilisation and Turkey’s admission could have a positive influence on other Islamic nations in the region.

On the three-year anniversary of the 11 September terrorist attacks in the US, Balkenende said he was opposed to ideas that Islam and the West were on a collision course. But he admitted that his idea to debate European values was partly prompted by the 2001 attacks.

“If the dialogue does not come about, there is a risk that we will live at cross-purposes, not meeting each other,” he said.

Having lamented last week that “we have achieved a united Europe without uniting Europeans”, Balkenende said the feeling of European unity will be stimulated by joint external threats, such as terrorism.

But that unity will also be stimulated by large-scale economic competition with the US and the rising economies in Asia, he said.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news