Following the launch of the Party for Freedom (PVV) website which encourages Dutch natives to complain about “annoyances and pollution” caused by migrants from Central and Eastern Europe, the ambassadors of ten concerned countries have addressed an open letter “to Dutch society and its political leaders.”
In the letter, which is published on the front page of NRC Handelsblad and in the opinion section of De Volkskrant, the ambassadors point out that the website, which encourages negative stereotypes and “discrimination,” also “denigrates a specific group” that “continues to make a considerable contribution to Dutch tax revenues and economic growth.” Having praised the exemplary freedom and tolerance that has long been associated with the Netherlands, the authors of the letter conclude by asking “Dutch society and its political leaders to distance themselves from this contentious initiative.”
In its editorial, NRC reports on the uncomfortable situation of the government led by liberal Mark Rutte, which relies on PVV support, but argues that the government should nonetheless move “to dissociate itself from this odious website.” The Rotterdam daily also points out that the “site will certainly be an obstacle to cooperation between the Netherlands and the countries in question, and, for this reason, it is certainly contrary to Dutch interests.”
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On this point, De Volkskrant remarks that Dutch companies have to suffer the consequences of damage to the Netherlands’ image in the countries concerned, notably in Poland, and in particular in the flower trade. By ironic coincidence, the daily notes that the theme for this year at the Keukenhof museum in Holland, which is set to re-open on 22 March, will be “Poland - the heart of Europe.”
There have been several responses published in the press of the countries targeted by the PVV initiative. For example, the Slovak daily Pravda writes:
Classifying individuals on the basis of their ethnic origin or religious faith is a well worn tactic employed by populists, who need designated scapegoats to attract voters. […] Even the Netherlands, where the political climate has changed significantly over the last few years, is not immune to this virus.
For its part, Bulgarian news website euinside affirms -
Campaigns like the one conducted by the Dutch Party of Freedom give rise to a bitter feeling that the last 50 years of united Europe have served no purpose.
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