Netherlands Embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark

Koenders: Today’s crises require flexible diplomacy

According to Minister of Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders, ‘There are no quick fixes for today’s challenges: we will have to work long and hard, at international level, to find permanent solutions to the sources of conflict around us.’ The Minister made these remarks in his 2016 policy agenda, adding, ‘This will require dynamic and flexible diplomacy, choices and innovative use of resources, as well as collaboration in old and new coalitions. International diplomacy is working at full capacity, which puts a lot of strain on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but it is vital for our security and prosperity.’

‘The motion by Bram van Ojik, which the House adopted last year, allows the Netherlands to strengthen its diplomatic efforts in areas where this is now needed to defend Dutch interests: security and stability, migration, European cooperation and the Dutch economy. This will require more staff at embassies and consulates, at international organisations, and at the Ministry in The Hague. This break with the trend towards austerity comes not a moment too soon, and will put the Netherlands in a better position to play its role and live up to its responsibilities’, said Mr Koenders.

The Minister believes that the Netherlands must be prepared for a long period of political turbulence and uncertainty throughout the world. The continuing conflicts encircling Europe have a direct impact on our society, causing flows of refugees and fuelling radicalism and terrorism. This instability on Europe’s doorstep will not disappear overnight.

Over the coming year Dutch diplomacy will focus specifically on safeguarding Dutch interests and, by extension, contributing to a safer and more just world that is better prepared for the future. Money has been earmarked in the Foreign Affairs budget for a redoubling of efforts to promote security and stability – particularly around Europe’s external borders – and for counterterrorism, human rights and cyber issues. An extra six million euros have been reserved for the Stability Fund, and the Internal Security Fund will receive a further one million euros. The government has also made extra financial resources available to combat terrorism, particularly the problem of foreign terrorist fighters. A strong legal order will make the world more stable, safe, free and prosperous in the long term. Promoting human rights therefore remains a core element of Dutch foreign policy; the Human Rights Fund will receive an extra 1.5 million euros over the coming year.

The Netherlands is actively seeking to forge new coalitions with states, civil-society organisations, companies and citizens to help bolster its efforts in the area of security. Examples include the Global Counterterrorism Forum, whose focus is preventing radicalisation and combating terrorism, the anti-ISIS coalition, and the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise, in which companies and governments work together to enhance cyber security.

Cooperation with our allies both within and outside Europe remains essential, according to Koenders. The Government hopes to increase the Netherlands’ influence at the institutions that are the cornerstone of our security and economy, such as the UN, the EU, NATO and the OSCE. The Netherlands is a candidate for a seat on the Security Council for the 2017-2018 term.

In the first half of 2016 the Netherlands will hold the Presidency of the European Union. It wants its Presidency to be meaningful and well-organised, tackling issues that are important to the Netherlands and to Europe. It aims to foster a Europe that promotes innovative growth and creates jobs, focuses on tackling common problems – like the influx of refugees, the fight against jihadism and climate change – and engages with its citizens more. ‘We are also realistic. Even if you hold the Presidency there is a limit on what you can achieve in six months, but we will try our very best to ensure that European cooperation makes practical progress,’ Mr Koenders added.