Russia-Netherlands

The ‘clash of civilisations’

Published on 10 October 2013 at 13:21

In the wake of the ongoing dispute over Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise ship, which was sailing under Dutch flag and detained along with her crew in the Russian port of Murmansk, a new “power struggle with Russian pride at stake” has emerged during the last few days, writes Trouw.

Dutch minister of Foreign Affairs Frans Timmermans swiftly apologised on October 9 following the arrest of the second most senior figure at Moscow’s embassy in The Hague, Dmitry Borodin, and his wife on October 5 on charges of drink driving and child abuse.

Trouw judges the Dutch apologies, which followed pressure from Moscow, were justified, but it deplores Russian hypocrisy –

On the same date that Mikhail Kosenko [a major critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin] was convicted and ordered to be held in a hospital psychiatric clinic, the Russian ministry of foreign affairs set its sights on the Netherlands. Even if the arrest [of the diplomat] was a step too far, the Russian reaction leaves a bitter taste. In terms of human rights, Moscow doesn’t really have a right to speak.

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“The latent conflict between authoritarian Russia and liberal Netherlands has finally erupted,” notes Rzeczpospolita, quoting expert Marcel de Haas, who adds that it was only a matter of time as the two countries could not be more different from each other. He continues –

Holland is small and depends on foreign trade, which is why it gets along well with everyone. Meanwhile Russia, thanks to its oil, gas and army feels independent and wants to show its assertiveness and that it still is a great power.

Calling the conflict “a clash of civilisations”, Rzeczpospolita casts doubt the planned visit of Dutch King Willem-Alexander to Moscow scheduled for November and wonders whether Dutch companies, such as Philips, ING or Rabobank, will continue to be one of the biggest investors in the Russian market.

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