Dutch FM to face parliament over multiculturalism remarks

Minister Stef Blok of Foreign Affairs is facing the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, on Wednesday to discuss statements he made about multicultural societies and Suriname. While the coalition parties support Blok, the opposition parties want him to prove that he can still fulfill his role as Foreign Minister after insulting a number of countries.

At a private meeting for expats in The Hague in July, Blok said that peaceful multicultural societies don't exist and that it is genetically determined that people from different groups can't get along. He also called Suriname a failed state. This naturally upset Suriname, as well as a number of other countries with multicultural societies, including parts of the Caribbean Netherlands. The comments also prompted officials to call on Blok to increase diversity at the Ministry. 

The VVD Minister later said he regretted offense given by his statements and acknowledged that he chose his words "unfortunately and carelessly". Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that Blok can stay on as Minister as far as he is concerned. And the coalition parties also expressed support for him.

But the opposition parties want more of an explanation, according to RTL Nieuws. "He has to explain what he was thinking. That hasn't happened so far", PvdA leader Lodwijk Asscher said. According to GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver, Blok has to show "whether he is still taken seriously abroad". 

Blok is the second Minister of Foreign Affairs in the less than a year that the Rutte III government has been in office. His predecessor Halbe Zijlstra had to resign after it was revealed that he lied about being at a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin in which the Russian president said he wanted to conquer areas in Ukraine and the Baltic States.