Kiev treaty would allow Dutch to arm MH17 police unit

Minister Frans Timmermans is in Ukraine's capital Kiev with his Australian Foreign Affairs colleague Julie Bishop to discuss the safe progress of the international investigation currently underway. Out of discussions with the Ukrainian government, Minister Timmermans has drawn up a treaty that would allow Dutch personnel in the East of the country to arm themselves in case clashes escalate and their own safety is not secured. 

The treaty is meant as an insurance policy against a 'maximum scenario' as a diplomat from Foreign Affairs tells Parliament. The Dutch representatives, including police and members of the Military Police, are not carrying weapons to prevent themselves from becoming involved in the armed conflict currently taking place in the vicinity of the MH17 crash site.

Minister Timmermans has convinced the Ukrainian government to allow armament in case of a 'maximum scenario'. This scenario would involve clashes in the area escalating to the point that the Dutch staff members risk their own lives being in the area.

Ukraine's president Petro Poroschenko has promised Minister Timmermans that the Ukrainian army will guarantee a safe road to the disaster area to the best of their abilities, and not engage in fighting with the rebels in the area where the Malaysia Airlines plane came down.

The Netherlands has the lead in the investigation process in the area, with the top priority of finding and repatriating any remaining victims. There are currently 23 Dutch police agents and 40 members of the Military police in Donetsk, close to the crash site. The Netherlands has 120 people on stand-by. Australia and Malaysia have 50 and 58 people in the area, respectively.

After remains and possessions of the 293 victims are repatriated, the next priority for the international investigative team is to thoroughly investigate what the cause of the crash is, and how it happened. Then, a prosecution may take place, which will be performed by the Investigative Council for Security (OvV). This is an independent investigative body.

According to the Commander of the Armed Forces, Peter Middendorp, the repatriation mission should not take more than three weeks. He tells Parliament that the area around the site is being ruled by military conflict. Parliament has asked questions about what will happen if the mission has to be prolonged after three weeks.