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Mark Rutte; Geert Wilders

Wilders and Rutte face each other in heated debate

During a debate hosted by Dutch TV's EenVandaag, Wilders accused Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte of breaking election promises and not listening to voters.

Published: March 14, 2017, 8:24 am

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    The two politicians faced each other for 30 minutes on Monday night, held two days before polls open in the Netherlands. They touched on the recent row with Turkey, its future role in the EU and immigration.

    Wilders called his opponent the “prime minister of foreigners” and reminded Rutte that Dutch prisoners enjoyed more rights than the elderly population. “We need to chose for our own people, for our own parents, and not for the asylum seekers,” Wilders said.

    “You are not the prime minister of the Netherlands, but of the foreigners,” Wilders told Rutte. And on the row with Turkey, he remarked: “You are being taken hostage by Erdogan. Close the Dutch borders.”

    Wilders appeared to have received a boost from Dutch voters anxious about immigration amid simmering Dutch-Turkish tensions for Wednesday’s general election.

    Wilders also accused Rutte of scaremongering over Brexit, saying the UK was “doing better than the rest”. He said the Netherlands leaving the EU would be the “best thing that could happen to us”.

    “We will get the key to our own door. Don’t scare scare people about the UK. economy, it’s better than ever,” he said.

    On Monday Rutte told Freedom Party leader Wilders he wouldn’t work with him under any circumstances “I want The Netherlands to be the first country which stops this trend of the wrong sort of populism,” Rutte told reporters, just hours before the debate.

    He accused Wilders of becoming “radicalised” and of making “extreme statements” about Moroccan-Dutch citizens.

    Rutte told Wilders: “I am not working with a party like this. Not in a government, not in a minority government with your support.”

    But an analyst told French news agency AFP that 60 percent of Dutch voters are still undecided. There are 28 parties in the contest for 12.9 million eligible Dutch voters, and observers have warned that forming a coalition would demand tough negotiations.

    Wilders’ “ideology might be negative, it’s anti-Muslims, it’s anti-EU, it’s anti-immigration, it’s anti-refugees. But it is a clear ideology that addresses concerns of a substantial group of the Dutch. So it is there to stay,” Monika Sie Dhian Ho, director of the Clingendael Institute, told AFP.

    The results in The Netherlands are being closely monitored by France, Germany and Norway, all set to have elections later in 2017. All three nations are seeing growing concerns about immigration in their respective countries.

    Meanwhile the German daily Die Welt reported that the Netherlands and Germany had made a deal to allow even more migrants into their respective countries.

    The German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Rutte made concrete commitments in the negotiations on the EU “refugee” agreement with Turkey: Merkel and Rutte both promised to annually invite some 150 000 to 250 000 Syrians from Turkey to Europe.

    This was revealed by the author of the book Die Getriebenen – Merkel und die Flüchtlingspolitik. Ein Report aus dem Innern der Macht (Siedler-Verlag) by journalist Robin Alexander.” The book hit the stores on Monday.

    On March 6, 2016, on the eve of the decisive EU Council summit, a meeting of the Chancellor with Rutte and former Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu took place at the EU Representation in Brussels. The Netherlands then held the EU Presidency.

    In an excerpt from Robin Alexander’s book it is revealed how Merkel negotiated the EU-Turkey deal. The plan agreed by Merkel, Davutoglu and Rutte was presented to the other EU Council members on the following day as a surprising proposal by Turkey. The heads of state and government then agreed on the final document of the summit to allow “voluntary admission for humanitarian reasons”.

    However, the actual number concocted by Merkel, Rutte and Davutoglu, was not mentioned to the other Europeans. This was confirmed by several people who were involved in the negotiations.

    Merkel and Rutte planned to convince other EU countries to take in masses of “refugees” coming from Turkey.

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