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'Peacekeeping can be conducted without bombers and warships'

5 May 2010

'Peacekeeping can be conducted without bombers and warships'

Harry van Bommel was today one of tens of thousands of people who attended the Liberation Festival in Wageningen, marking the end of the Nazi occupation on May 5th, 1945. He took part with Green Left MP Femke Halsema and others in a political debate on freedom and the role of the Dutch armed forces. Van Bommel argued that cuts in the defence budget would not mean that the defence department could not continue to play an important role in matters of peace and security. "The Netherlands should be making savings on the offensive parts of the armed forces," Van |Bommel said. "We should not be purchasing new fighter planes, and we could also get rid of part of the navy. You don't need bombers and warships for peacekeeping tasks." These views were the opposite of those expressed by outgoing Christian Democrat Secretary of State Jack de Vries, who wants to exclude the defence budget from the coming round of cuts.

Harry van Bommel naast Joel Voordewindt (CU)
Harry van Bommel alongside Joel Voordewindt, of the Christian Union, during the debate - Photo: Maurice Boyer

In the afternoon Van Bommel took part in a debate on Afghanistan. He raised the issue of the about face performed by Job Cohen, number one on the Labour Party's list, over the question of sending Dutch soldiers to Afghanistan. Just a week after the Labour Party group in Parliament had rejected a proposal from the Green Left and centrist liberals D66 calling for more troops to be sent, Cohen stated during a television debate that he was in fact in favour of the idea.

All parties were, however, in agreement over Afghanistan's need for more development as well as the necessity for the involvement of all sides, including the Taliban, in attempts to find a political solution to the conflict.

Harry van Bommel
Harry van Bommel - Photo: Maurice Boyer
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