On Tuesday King Willem-Alexander opened the Netherlands' parliamentary year with his traditional Budget Day speech. He talked about the devastation Hurricane Irma left of the Caribbean islands that form part of the Dutch Kingdom, terrorism around the world, the prosecution of those responsible for the MH17 disaster, and making sure that everyone in the Netherlands benefits from the improving economy, among other things.
Press photographer Chris Keulen was arrested in Limburg on Sunday for refusing to hand over his camera and photos to the police, ANP reports. This happened while he was reporting on noise problems caused by NATO aircraft.
Keulen took photos of a local activist and an American soldier in civilian clothing coming to blows during an argument near the NATO base Geilenkirchen. After the fight, Keulen went to the police station to give a witness statement. He was asked to hand over his photos, but he refused, appealing to press freedom.
In January the Netherlands will again deploy F-16 fighter jets to fight in the coalition against terrorist organization ISIS in Syria and Iraq, sources confirmed to the Telegraaf. A total of six jets will be sent, four for fighting and two as reserve, and they will be stationed at the Al-Azraq airbase in Jordan, according to the newspaper.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte will be visiting the 270 Dutch soldiers stationed in Rukla, Lithuania on Thursday and Friday. Commander of the Armed Forces Tom Middendorp will accompany him on this visit, NOS reports.
The Dutch troops are part of the NATO force aimed at preventing Russia from taking root in the Baltic states. The soldiers also serve the purpose of reassuring the Eastern European allies.
Rutte's program includes a number of events, including a demonstration by NATO troops and a meeting with Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite.
Four Dutch soldiers that form part of the NATO battalion in Lithuania, were sent back to the Netherlands after they were arrested for involvement in a drunken fight, according to newspaper Trouw.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte met U.S. president Donald Trump for the first time at a NATO summit in Brussels on Thursday. The two had a "fine dialog", according to Rutte. "I'm going to build a fine relationship with him", the Dutch Prime Minister said to RTL Nieuws.
NATO is joining the coalition fighting against terrorist organization ISIS in Syria and Iraq, the 28 NATO member states decided on Wednesday. The Netherlands will contribute two planes to the fight against Islamic State this year, Ministers Bert Koenders of Foreign Affairs and Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert announced.
Defense Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert wants to keep Dutch soldiers in Lithuania for longer, she said during a visit to the soldiers there. Officially the mission ends at the end of this year, but she thinks the Dutch aid will be needed for longer, RTL Nieuws reports.
"We will stay here for as long as die situation requires it, but we will also look at what other allies can do", Hennis said, according to the broadcaster. "Huge investments are being made here."
Germany and France expressed their support for the Netherlands in the political spat between the Netherlands and Turkey. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg also called for a de-escalation in the situation. After the Netherlands' parliamentary election on Wednesday, Germany and France also have elections upcoming.
The state of the Dutch armed forces is extremely worrying, according to advisory council on international affairs AIV in an advice report to the cabinet titled 'Russia and the Dutch defense efforts'. According to the report, the "employability of the armed forces was further undermined this government term" and if the policy is not changed, the basic readiness of the army will only be back in order in 2021, NU.nl reports.
The Netherlands must work on diplomacy, defense and development in order to tackle the growing threat of cyber attacks from hostile countries and criminals, according to the International Cyber Strategy that Minister Bert Koenders of Foreign Affairs sent to Dutch parliament on Sunday. Koenders wants international law to be supplemented to suit the needs of the new digital world, the Telegraaf reports.
Defense Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert thinks that the world would do better to judge new American president Donald Trump on his actions and not on his tweets. Trump's twitter activity "causes a lot of debate and headlines and I don't think the world benefits from it", she said, according to newspaper AD.
King Willem-Alexander emphasized the importance of cooperating with NATO, the United Nations and Europe in his traditional New Year's speech on Tuesday. According to him, "a highly developed country like the Netherlands can not be indifferent to developments in the wider world", AD reports.
Peace, freedom, stability and prosperity don't just happen, the King said. "Without our international partners it is simply impossible. It is therefore good if our voice continues to be heard in Europe, the UN, NATO and everywhere people think past their borders."
Toxic chromium-6 paint was found in the former NATO armory near Almelo. The work space has been closed down and specialized company Dolmans Calmiteeiten Diensten is working on cleaning the place, AD reports.
According to a Defense spokesperson, the decision to do a "deep cleaning" was made last year. The cleaning was scheduled for this month. In anticipation for that, the building was again checked over and traces of chromium 6 were found. According to the spokesperson, the level of chromium 6 found in the building is below the legal limits.
The Dutch Ministry of Defense will get more money in the coming years, no matter who wins the elections in March next year. Almost all parliamentary parties think there were to many cutbacks on the Defense budget in recent years, was revealed during the parliamentary debate on that budget on Wednesday, NOS reports.
The Netherlands was on of 16 countries that abstained on voting on United Nations negotiations on an international nuclear weapons ban. The negotiations will start next year - 123 countries voted for talks on nuclear disarmament and 38 countries voted against, NOS reports.
Defense Minister Jeanine Hennis Plasschaert wants an extension for NATO's anti-human trafficking mission on the Aegean Sea. The mission is set to end over three months, "but leaving in July would be really premature", Hennis said to broadcaster NOS during a visit to the area.
The Netherlands' Ambassadors Conference is starting in The Hague today. For the coming week Dutch ambassadors, consulates and permanent representatives at international institutions will meet and discuss developments in the Netherlands, the government's policy and important topics for the coming year.
The NATO Defense Planning Capability Review is very critical on the Dutch Defense policy, both in how much money the country invests in its defense capabilities and the deploy-ability of the Dutch army.
Defense Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert wants an extra 2 billion euros for the armed forces in the coming years, to bring the Netherlands up to the average spent by other European NATO countries, she said on radio program Kamerbreed on Saturday.
The Dutch navy ship Zr.MS. Van Amstel was selected to participate in the NATO mission against human trafficking between Turkey and Greece. The ship along with some 150 soldiers will join the mission on the Aegean sea in July, Ministers Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert of Defense and Bert Koenders of Foreign Affairs announced on Wednesday
Prime Minister Mark Rutte is sticking by his previous statement that the Dutch government expects no more than 58 thousand asylum seekers to arrive in the Netherlands this year. And even that is "still too many", he said Tuesday in the Tweede Kamer, lower house of parliament, the Volkskrant reports.
The NATO allies agreed on a plan to help Greece and Turkey in the fight against human traffickers smuggling asylum seekers on the Aegean Sea, NATO Secretary General Jens Slotenberg said on Thursday