Dutch PM says Erdogan massacre claim ‘historical falsehood’

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte talks prior to a national televised debate at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, Netherlands, on Monday. (Yves Herman POOL via AP)
Updated 14 March 2017

Dutch PM says Erdogan massacre claim ‘historical falsehood’

THE HAGUE, Netherlands: Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Tuesday slammed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after he said the Dutch “character” was “broken” over the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.
“He (Erdogan) continues to escalate the situation,” Rutte told Dutch news TV channel RTL Nieuws, adding “it’s a repugnant historical falsehood,” as a diplomatic row between The Hague and Ankara reached a new low point.
Speaking in Ankara, Erdogan touched a raw nerve with the Dutch when he recalled the mid-1995 Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia, where lightly-armed Dutch peacekeepers were overrun by Bosnian Serb forces and failed to protect Muslim refugees.
Almost 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were then massacred and their bodies thrown in mass graves in the biggest incident of bloodshed on European soil since World War II.
The incident caused the Dutch government’s resignation in 2002 after it finally admitted that it could have done more — and the incident remains a source of national soul-searching to this day.
“The Netherlands and the Dutch, we know them from the Srebrenica massacre. We know how much their morality, their character is broken from the 8,000 Bosnians that were massacred,” Erdogan said.
“We know this well. No one should give us a lesson in civilization,” he added.
But Dutch premier Mark Rutte hit back saying: “Erdogan’s tone is getting more and more hysterical, not only against The Netherlands, but also against Germany.”
“We won’t sink to that level and now we’re being confronted with an idiotic fact,” Rutte said.
“It’s totally unacceptable,” he said.
Turkey on Monday suspended top level talks with The Netherlands in a spiralling spat with The Hague and the EU after Turkish ministers were blocked from staging rallies to court the votes of expatriate Turks in a referendum to give Erdogan greater powers.
Ankara was especially angered by the acts of the Dutch days ahead of general elections in the country when authorities prevented the foreign minister’s plane from landing and expelled the family minister over the weekend.

South Korea mulls sending own ships to Strait of Hormuz

Updated 19 January 2020

South Korea mulls sending own ships to Strait of Hormuz

  • Seoul wants to avoid feud with Tehran over international maritime alliance

SEOUL: South Korea is considering sending its own ships to the Strait of Hormuz to safeguard its vessels rather than joining an international maritime security alliance, a presidential aide has said.

Around 70 percent of its oil imports pass through the waterway, making it crucial for the country’s ships to be protected from piracy and other threats.

But, amid tension in the Middle East following the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani from a US airstrike and in a bid to avoid a feud with key oil producer Iran, the South might send its own naval unit to the strait.

“Internally, there has been considerable progress (about the Hormuz dispatch),” Noh Young-min, presidential chief of staff, told a local radio program following a National Security Council meeting. “We should make efforts to protect the lives and properties of our people and companies in the region, as well as safeguard freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz.”

Talks with Iranian authorities were also underway to defuse diplomatic problems, he added.

“We’re going to explain the issues (to Iran) in advance,” Noh said, responding to a question about a possible rift between Seoul and Tehran should a ship be sent to the strait. “We hope bilateral relations will not be affected.”

The anti-piracy Cheonghae Unit is operating in the Gulf of Aden and is likely to extend its mission to the Strait of Hormuz once a decision is made.

South Korea has not indicated it will join the US-led “Operation Sentinel” coalition guarding the strait, despite insistence from President Donald Trump’s administration that it shoulder some of the costs.

In a meeting with his South Korean counterpart Kang Kyung-hwa on Tuesday in Palo Alto near San Francisco, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for collective maritime security efforts.

“Overall, (Pompeo) emphasized the importance of collective efforts by the international community,” a top South Korean diplomat told reporters, asking not to be named.

The diplomat said Pompeo pointed to the repercussions for the global economy from instability in the Strait of Hormuz, including a hike in oil prices, and stressed the need for all countries to contribute to bringing stability to the region.

Operation Sentinel’s members include Australia, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the UK and Albania, with leadership and headquarters coordination provided by US Naval Forces Central Command.