Dutch Foreign Minister lies about meeting Putin
In an extremely damaging admission on the eve of his first visit to Russia as a member of the Dutch government, Foreign Minister Halbe Zijlstra has acknowledged lying about attending a meeting with President Vladimir Putin in 2006.
Published: February 12, 2018, 4:55 pm
“I was tucked away back in the room, but I could clearly hear Putin’s answer to the question about what he considered greater Russia,” Zijlstra lied to a gathering of his People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, which today heads the new Dutch government.
“He said this included Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and the Baltic states, and, well, Kazakhstan would be ‘nice to have’,” he claimed. But it was all made up. His lies were recorded on video.
Zijlstra made the admission in an interview published in respected Dutch daily De Volkskrant. He confirmed his comments in a written statement today, after De Volkskrant discovered from Zijlstra’s colleagues that he had not been at the 2006 business meeting in Russia.
He had previously worked as an employee of energy giant Shell. He lied about visiting Putin’s country retreat in 2006, where the Russian president had allegedly said Belarus, Ukraine and the Baltic states were all part of a “Greater Russia”.
He has now acknowledged that he had never been at the meeting with Putin and had never heard any such comments first hand.
He said he had heard the comments from a source but had wanted to protect the source. “The manner in which I wanted to protect my source and underscore my message about Russia was not sensible, that is crystal clear,” Zijlstra claimed.
Surprisingly he is nevertheless due to fly to Moscow for a meeting with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov despite lying. Geert Wilders’ opposition Party for Freedom has called for a parliamentary debate about Zijlstra’s integrity before he leaves.
Worse still, Zijlstra admitted to Volkskrant that Prime Minister Mark Rutte knew about his lies.
The Twittersphere has exploded with comments mocking Zijlstra in Dutch, with the hashtag #Halvewaserby, meaning ” Halbe was there”, picturing him at Woodstock, on the Moon and at Yalta.
Professor Kees van der Pijl, a well-known Dutch political economist, from Sussex University, said Zijlstra should resign as soon as possible.
“Our relationship with Russia is so sensitive, after we (i.e. the SBU of Ukraine) falsely accused them of shooting down #MH17, that someone whom the Russians know to be a liar, cannot be sent there,” Van der Pijl said.
There were also calls for Rutte to resign as he knew about the lies.
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