Van Bommel: ‘Arms deal is no private matter’

7 March 2011

Van Bommel: ‘Arms deal is no private matter’

SP Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel describes himself as ‘unpleasantly surprised’ by reports in national daily newspaper De Volkskrant to the effect that potential Omani orders for military frigates have formed part of the subject matter of a visit to Oman by the Queen and other members of the Dutch royal family. According to Van Bommel, the Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, has a great deal of explaining to do. “Parliament has already let it be known that we do not approve these sales. The visit went ahead in any case, as a private dinner, which I found unwise. Unless they’re talking about cap guns for the grandchildren, an arms order isn’t a private matter at all.” Van Bommel intends to use Prime Minister’s Question Time on Tuesday this week to ask Rutte for an explanation.

The initial reason for Van Bommel’s scepticism regarding this state visit was the unrest in Oman. Just as in many other countries in the Middle East, the people of Oman are protesting against the regime. A visit from a foreign head of state during a time of protests from a country’s own people could be interpreted as support for the regime, Van Bommel argues. “We must do everything we can to prevent the queen from being used in this conflict, which means that it would be much better if she were to stay at home. Unfortunately it has been decided that this is not what she will do.”

De Volkskrant’s report that the reason behind the visit is an arms deal makes the whole thing much worse. “A few weeks ago I was, in response to the uprisings in Libya and Egypt, already calling for an arms embargo to be imposed throughout the region. So it’s truly incomprehensible that the queen is going to visit a sultan in the Middle East in order to talk about an arms deal. I heartily wish that this is not the case.”

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