Van Bommel: Russian criticisms of Kosovo policy and NATO rocket shield are correct

21 February 2008

Van Bommel: Russian criticisms of Kosovo policy and NATO rocket shield are correct

Hard-hitting criticism from Russian President Vladimir Putin, both on the subject of Kosovo and on the proposed NATO rocket shield, is correct, said SP Member of Parliament and foreign affairs specialist Harry van Bommel in a lecture given at the University of Moscow as part of a hearing for students and teachers of Dutch. Van Bommel was in Russia as part of a Dutch parliamentary delegation which was visiting the country this week. After Moscow, the delegation will go on to the town of Perm.

If the students were pleasantly surprised by the SP's standpoint on Kosovo, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Alexander Grushko appeared astonished. “Almost everyone in Russia thinks that in Europe we are all behind Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence. But that isn't the case: the SP is against the dangerous policy of the EU and the US of supporting this against the wishes of the Serbian government. The risk is real that a series of unilateral declarations of independence from different minority groups in numerous countries will be encouraged. Moreover there is a risk of renewed violence in the Balkans. The SP wants to see negotiations aimed at reaching a bilateral agreement.”

The SP is also against American plans to position a radar station and other parts of a world-wide rocket shield in European countries such as Poland and the Czech Republic. Here once again the party shares the views of President Putin, who has warned that the west is risking a new Cold War, and that the US is striving, through this rocket shield, for complete military domination. “The rocket shield has little to do with defence against rockets fired by rogue states such as Iran or Syria,” Van Bommel said. “We should not be working towards a new Cold War, so this weapon system should be scrapped.”

In his lecture Van Bommel discussed the history of Dutch-Russian relations and the lack of democratic rights of citizens in present-day Russia. During the visit further meetings are planned, with human rights activists, representatives of opposition parties, government leaders and the well-known dissident Gary Kasparov.

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