Dutch diplomatic crisis likely; Underfunded Foreign Min. tackles Russia, refugees: Advisors

Bert Koenders
Bert Koenders. Photo: EU2016 NL / Wikimedia Commons

The Dutch diplomatic network is in a "worrying state" and "urgently" needs to be strenghtened to avoid a diplomatic crisis, the advice council for international issues AIV said in a report on Wednesday. The new government will have to invest an extra 70 to 80 million euros annually into the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the report states according to ANP.

The AIV is an important advisory body for the Dutch government. According to the report, the work of embassies and consulates only increased over the past years, while the number of Dutch embassies and consulates decreased due to budget cuts. The international situation is also very different now, due to Russia and the large number of asylum seekers and refugees, among other things.

"We are understaffed in capital cities that are really very important for the Netherlands. In Ukraine, Sweden and the Baltic States - all posts that are important for our relationship with Russia - the capacity is really minimal. It is bad to not be well informed about that country", Fred van Staden, professor on international involvement and co-writer of the report, said to NRC.

The AIV advices the Netherlands to reopen embassies in Africa and South America. This is particularly important in northern Africa, due to the increasing number of asylum seekers coming to Europe from there. 

Minister Bert Koenders of Foreign Affairs already strenghtend the embassies and consulates in the European Union, but he acknowledges that more is needed. In 1997 the Netherlands had 1,250 diplomats abroad, now there are only 834.

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