‘Only a political solution offers a way out of the conflict in Syria. There is widespread hesitancy among EU countries about lifting the arms embargo on Syrian opposition groups. We will discuss this further in the weeks ahead. Whatever steps we take, it is essential that they contribute to a political solution. We will also be looking at lifting economic sanctions on the opposition, mainly to enable them to provide services to the civilian population.’ This was foreign minister Frans Timmermans’s assessment following the discussion on Syria at the informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in Dublin.
On 1 July 2013, the Netherlands will end its police training mission in Kunduz province, Afghanistan. Until then, the training will continue, but the emphasis will shift to transferring duties to the Afghan authorities.
The OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM) will probably be needed for another twenty years, foreign minister Frans Timmermans said at the start of the 20th anniversary celebration of the High Commissioner post. The event in The Hague was attended by Her Majesty Queen Beatrix and many visiting dignitaries.
The Netherlands is earmarking €3.5 million for humanitarian aid to victims of the violence in Syria and for support to the Assistance Coordination Unit (ACU) of the Syrian opposition. This was announced by foreign trade and development cooperation minister Lilianne Ploumen on Wednesday.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Frans Timmermans has offered condolences to the family of Hugo Chávez and to the people and government of Venezuela. A period of national mourning has been declared in Venezuela following the president’s death.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Frans Timmermans has called for the international media and civil society organisations to be given access to the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua. Mr Timmermans raised this issue during talks with Bambang Darmono, head of a special unit of the Indonesian government dedicated to accelerating the social and economic development of the provinces of Papua and West Papua.
Foreign minister Frans Timmermans and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov have met in Moscow to discuss the Russian-Dutch Bilateral Year 2013. President Putin will come to the Netherlands on 8 April for the opening ceremony. Russia plans on this occasion to formalise several agreements on cooperation with the Netherlands.
The Netherlands supports human rights defenders and organisations in their efforts to secure respect for human rights. In his address to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations in Geneva, foreign minister Frans Timmermans stated that this is one of his main priorities.
Today, former Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende attended the presidential inauguration of Park Geun-hye in Seoul. Last December, Ms Park, the daughter of former President Park Chung-hee, was elected the first female president of South Korea.
The Netherlands and Indonesia are to step up cooperation on politics, economics and culture. Foreign minister Frans Timmermans made detailed agreements on this with his Indonesian counterpart Marty Natalegawa during his visit to Jakarta this week.