Srbrenica mission criticism causes ex-Defense Min to lash out

Srebrenica_massacre_memorial_gravestones_2009_1 Michael Büker Wikimedia commons. ()

Former Defense Minister Joris Voorhoeve is criticizing his distant successor Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert for saying that the Dutch mission in Srebrenica was a mission "that - already in advance - was impossible to do" in a speech on Veterans' Day. In a letter in the Volkskrant Voorhoeve writes that military leaders convinced the then Minister that the mission was feasible and therefore Hennis' statement is "evidently a mistake".

This is still a sensitive issue, even 20 years after the fact. The Dutch UN soldiers could not prevent the slaughter of 8,400 Muslim men and boys. Twelve Dutchbat veterans are now also suing the Dutch government for compensation after Hennis' statement.

According to Voorhoeve, at the time that the Netherlands decided to deploy the Dutchbat soldiers, the mission was definitely not impossible. The UN promised ir support and the Dutch government assumed that the soldiers could count on that. Dutchbat 1 and 2 also passed without problems, its only with Dutchbat 3 that things became difficult, he wrote in the Volkskrant. And when the problems started, the Netherlands did everything it could to strengthen the position of the UN peacekeeping force in Srebrenica, he wrote.

The Ministry of Defense responded to the piece by saying that Voorhoeve's point of view "supports" what Hennis said. According to the Ministry, by saying "in advance" Hennis meant that the mission was not feasible from the time the Bosnian Serbs attacked Srebrenica. "In the set up of the mission insufficient account was taken of this possibility", a spokesperson said to the newspaper. 

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