New Foreign Minister to focus on cybersecurity

Stef Blok (Photo: Commons)Stef Blok (Photo: Commons)

Stef Blok, the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, wants to make safety "the backbone of Dutch foreign policy". He particularly plans to focus on cybersecurity, he said in a memo on his strategy for the coming years sent to the Tweede Kamer on Tuesday, NOS reports.

According to Blok, the international security situation changed considerably in recent years, "and even worsened on points". He referred to the downing of flight MH17, and the war in Syria and Iraq that triggered a large influx of asylum seekers to the Netherlands and Europe. 

Blok also addressed "cyber attacks on critical infrastructure" and "interference in elections". He wants to strengthen cybersecurity with "clear international laws and regulations". There are hardly any legal frameworks in place when it comes to cybersecurity, a spokesperson for the Minister added to NOS. "In that respect, we are still in the Middle Ages." In the Telegraaf Blok said that he wants to train diplomats to be more alert to cyber threats, so that they can help detect and neutralize them on time.

Dutch missions in the coming years will mainly focus on the regions around Europe and they must contribute to Dutch security, Blok also wrote to the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutchparliament. He wants to give "special attention" to the defense of the Caribbean part of the kingdom of he Netherlands "given the instability in that region". According to Blok, a current crisis in neighboring Venezuela may lead to "significant migration flows" to the Dutch islands. Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans already fled to neighboring Colombia.

Stef Blok, the Minister of Housing and later also Minister of Security and Justice in the previous government, took office as Minister of Foreign Affairs on March 7th. He took over from Halbe Zijlstra, who resigned after lying about a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin.


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