Green party attacked in debate on stalled govt formation

The House where the last day of budget discussions took place

GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver had to defend himself from all sides in a parliamentary debate about the stalled government formation talks between his party and the VVD, CDA and D66. "We will not send anyone back to countries where it is unsafe", Klaver said in the Tweede Kamer. But the other party leaders did not seem to be buying it, reports.

"Where does it say that migrants are sent back to unsafe countries?" PvdA leader Lodewijk Asscher wanted to know. He was referring to a document set up by mediator Herman Tjeenk Willink on making asylum deals with non-EU countries that will follow all Dutch laws and UN treaties. The document used the asylum agreement between Turkey and the European Union as a starting point. The other three parties in the negotiation hope to eventually make similar agreements with North African countries.

For Asscher, Klaver's refusal to accept the possibility of such deals indicates that the GroenLinks leader is against sheltering people in their own region. SGP leader Kees van der Staaij also wondered why GroenLinks felt shelter and protection closer to home is unacceptable.

Klaver said that shelter in the region is important for GroenLinks, but within the party there is no confidence in this form of protection. According to Klaver, agreements made on paper may comply with international rules, but making sure the country complies to the agreements in practice is very difficult. 

"Syrian asylum seekers in Turkey do not receive education and there are signs of child labor", Klaver said, referring to an Amnesty International report about the situation that came to be after the EU made a deal with Turkey about taking in Syrian asylum seekers. According to Klaver, there is no safe shelter in practice, despite the requirements set in the agreement.

Mark Rutte (VVD), Sybrand Buma (CDA) and Alexander Pechtold (D66) all expressed their disappointment in GroenLinks decision to pull out again earlier on Tuesday. Rutte called it "incomprehensible" that GroenLinks refuses to agree to a policy that even the most left-wing governments in Europe would accept. Pechtold pointed out that Klaver is abandoning a chance to make agreements about the environment and social inequality.