Now that Burma is making reforms and European Union sanctions have been suspended, the Netherlands is stepping up its cooperation with Burma. Burmese, Dutch and other companies can now use Dutch programmes to stimulate the Burmese economy, and Burmese can apply to the Netherlands Fellowships Programme (NFP) for student grants.
With the transfer of power from the National Transitional Council to the General National Congress, Libya has taken a major step forward, says foreign minister Uri Rosenthal. ‘Following the success of the country’s first free elections, this is a new milestone for Libya and the Libyans,’ Mr Rosenthal said. ‘It is my pleasure to congratulate them.’
Foreign minister Uri Rosenthal is indignant that all Swedish diplomats have been told to leave Belarus within 30 days. The Belarusian government had already refused to extend the Swedish ambassador’s accreditation, saying that he had too many contacts with opposition groups.
Foreign minister Uri Rosenthal has welcomed the news of the Syrian Prime Minister’s defection. ‘This shows that there are cracks in the regime,’ he said. ‘Army officers and diplomats had already defected; now Assad is losing the support of trusted leaders. The more officials who give up their loyalty to Assad, the better. This weakens the regime from within. The Dutch government would encourage other officials to follow this example.’
Foreign minister Uri Rosenthal is pleased with reports that the Syrian prime minister has now defected. ‘Cracks are appearing in the regime. Assad is now losing the support of his confidants. We’ve already seen the defections of diplomats and members of the military.’
The Netherlands is giving an extra €1 million in aid to victims of the conflict in Syria. The Red Cross will use the money to provide 200,000 Syrians with food and medical help.
In September the Netherlands will be hosting the fourth meeting of the Friends of the Syrian People International Working Group on Sanctions. This coalition of like-minded countries meets regularly to discuss sanctions against Syria and ways of getting more countries to join in them. During the meeting in the Netherlands, the main focus will be on improving the sanctions against the Syrian regime. ‘I hope that by that time the situation in Syria will have changed for the better. But now we need to step up pressure on the regime,’ said foreign minister Uri Rosenthal.
The Dutch government is making €5.3 million extra available for humanitarian aid to Mali, where a food crisis is affecting over 4 million people. A conflict is also raging in the northern part of this Sahel country. As a result, around 160,000 people have become displaced in Mali itself, while over 180,000 Malian refugees have fled to neighbouring countries.
Voters who live outside the Netherlands but want to vote in the upcoming Dutch election have to register with The Hague.
During British Foreign Secretary William Hague’s visit to the Netherlands Sang-Hyun Song, President of the International Criminal Court (ICC), thanked Mr Hague and Minister of Foreign Affairs Uri Rosenthal for their assistance in securing the release of four of his staff in Libya.