The House of Representatives is highly critical of the outgoing government’s actions in evacuating people from Afghanistan, but for the time being does not comment any political consequences on this for the concerned ministers. The parties first want to wait for an independent investigation in order to better judge this matter.
The entire opposition signed off on a motion of censure by the PvdA against outgoing Ministers Kaag and Bigefeld, but there was no majority. The SWP vote of no confidence in Kaag was not supported by the majority of parties. The motions against the two ministers will be voted on this afternoon.
This became clear after an hour-long debate in the House of Representatives, in which ministers admitted mistakes and expressed their regret. The House of Representatives believes that major mistakes occurred before and during the eviction process. According to many parties, the Cabinet acted too slowly and ignored the signals.
The Chamber of Deputies also accuses the Cabinet that interpreters and Dutch are still imprisoned in the country. Perry, the PvdA MP, said he was usually proud to be Dutch, but today he is “very ashamed”. PVV’er De Roon spoke of ‘indifferent’ ministers, SGP’er Stoffer spoke of the image of ‘slowness and mystery’ and Speer Van Dyck questioned who was responsible for itcluster 2.0? “.
Ministers witnessed Contrition. Foreign Minister Kaag and Prime Minister Rutte in particular bowed their heads. Ruti said it was “appalling” that not everyone was being removed from Kabul, and Kaj said the government had acted on “wrong assumptions”. “What I’m saying is, obviously, we’ve had a complete blind spot in how bad it can get and how quickly that bad is going to get.”
For example, Kaag acknowledged that the cabinet miscalculated the rapid advance of the Taliban, the “relative weakness” of the Afghan armed forces, the rapid fall of Kabul, and miscalculated the security risks around the airport and the reliance on the Americans, who were responsible at the airport at the time of the evacuation.
The result was that the government erroneously assumed for a long time that the Dutch and Afghans who worked for the Netherlands could be evacuated via commercial flights. But this did not work in the end. “I’m sorry, it’s horrible, but it’s like, we can’t take back what happened.”
Kaag added that the Netherlands wasn’t the only country that gave wrong estimates: other countries also had the same attitude to information and acted on wrong assumptions. “But I wonder every day what I missed.” Kaag thought the MPs’ accusation that the eviction was a “complete failure,” went too far because so many people had worked “hard” on the evictions. The Netherlands was the only country that worked 24 hours a day.
Outgoing Prime Minister Rutte also lamented how things were going. “You see the feeling of regret in Europe is a widely shared feeling.” Ruti himself also said he regretted that he was not “more visible” after the fall of Kabul.
Outgoing minister Bielefeld acknowledged that the Netherlands “should have thought much earlier” about returning people safely. According to Bielefeld, the Netherlands will “do everything in its power to bring them to safety” for the 22 translators still in Afghanistan. The Board believes that their data should be better recorded in the future. Bijleveld promised to get better.
Ministers reiterated in the discussion that Cabinet wants to set limits To the number of Afghans allowed to come to the Netherlands. These are the people who helped our country during the twenty-year mission in Afghanistan and who are subject to a proposal from D66 Member Salima Belhaj that passed the House of Representatives to bring them back.
Outgoing Minister Kag warns that it’s not about 50 people but “a lot”. So the government wants to first look at what criteria could play a role in the more than 20,000 applications.
“We can’t handle that financially and logistically like the Netherlands,” said Rutte. The Netherlands will hold consultations in England next Friday with other countries, including England, France and Germany, on what can be done together.
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