New Straits Times - - WORLD -

AM­S­TER­DAM: Dutch For­eign Min­is­ter Halbe Zi­jl­stra re­signed on Tues­day af­ter ad­mit­ting that he had lied about at­tend­ing a meet­ing in 2006 at which he said Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin had out­lined a strat­egy for build­ing a greater Rus­sia.

The in­ci­dent em­bar­rassed Prime Min­is­ter Mark Rutte’s four-party coali­tion govern­ment, which had a pre­car­i­ous par­lia­men­tary ma­jor­ity of just one seat.

It risks un­der­min­ing Dutch for­eign pol­icy at a time when di­plo­matic ties be­tween the Nether­lands and Rus­sia hit a low point, largely over the 2014 down­ing of Malaysia Air­lines Flight MH17 over Ukraine, al­legedly by proRus­sian sep­a­ratists.

Zi­jl­stra, vis­i­bly emo­tional as he took the floor dur­ing a par­lia­men­tary de­bate con­vened to dis­cuss his be­hav­iour, said he de­cided to ten­der his res­ig­na­tion to the king be­cause the sit­u­a­tion risked harm­ing the work of the For­eign Min­istry.

Law­mak­ers grilled Rutte, who had de­fended Zi­jl­stra de­spite know­ing since late Jan­uary that he had not met Putin.

They asked re­peat­edly why Rutte failed to in­form Par­lia­ment dur­ing the three weeks be­fore the af­fair went pub­lic.

Rutte ac­knowl­edged he had un­der­es­ti­mated the im­pact the af­fair would have. He com­fort­ably sur­vived a no-con­fi­dence vote.

Zi­jl­stra on Mon­day said he lied in 2016 when he said he at­tended a meet­ing a decade ear­lier at which Putin re­port­edly spoke of plans for re­gional ex­pan­sion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.