Minister of Foreign Affairs Frans Timmermans today had a first meeting with his Cuban counterpart, Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla. The two ministers agreed to open a dialogue about relations between the Netherlands and Cuba. ‘Cuba is undergoing reforms and the relationship between Cuba and the EU is changing,’ Mr Timmermans said. ‘That is significant not only for the Netherlands but also for the Caribbean countries in the Kingdom.’
Minister of Finance Jeroen Dijsselbloem, 46, has been appointed president of the Eurogroup, the informal administrative body of the states of the Eurozone. ‘It’s a great honour for me to be given this job, particularly in these difficult economic times for the eurozone.’
The training of police officers in Kunduz province, Aghanistan, has entered a new phase, with the Dutch mission now focusing more on helping the Afghan government prepare to take over the training itself. The government describes this shift in a progress report on the Kunduz mission, sent to the House of Representatives today. With the international mission ending in 2014, more responsibility for internal safety and security is being handed over to the Afghan authorities, and the Dutch mission’s new role is in line with this trend.
The UN refugee organisation UNHCR is to receive Dutch support in its search for solutions to the problem of large numbers of refugees living for years in refugee camps, as is the case now in the east of Sudan.
‘For the Netherlands, Worldwide’ is the title of the annual conference which brings together Dutch ambassadors and consuls general in The Hague for a programme addressing current international themes and policy questions. There are many challenges, so an ambitious approach is called for. ‘The Netherlands must provide excellent service, both when it comes to promoting trade and performing consular tasks,’ said foreign minister Frans Timmermans.
The Netherlands supports France’s military action in Mali. Foreign minister Frans Timmermans communicated this message in a telephone conversation with his French counterpart Laurent Fabius.
The Netherlands is gravely concerned about Israel’s announced expansion of its settlements, including 2,610 residential units in Givat Hamatos.
The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg have informed the coalition of Syrian opposition groups that an official representative of the coalition would be welcome in Brussels. The Benelux countries will provide assistance in setting up a mission. This mission can be used as the coalition’s official representation to the European Union, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
The independent jury for the Dutch Human Rights Defenders Tulip has awarded the 2012 Tulip to Marimuthu Barathan (51) from India. It will be presented in The Hague on 9 January 2013.
The Netherlands is contributing €1 million to the trial of Hissène Habré. The former Chadian dictator is being held responsible for systematically torturing and killing political opponents on a massive scale. Senegal and the African Union (AU) have created a special tribunal of Senegalese and other African judges for the trial.