Dutch deny MH17 link to Ukraine treaty rejection

Dutch deny MH17 link to Ukraine treaty rejection

The Dutch rejection of an EU treaty with Ukraine must not be linked to the Dutch-led MH17 plane crash investigation, according to prime minister Mark Rutte. Rutte dismissed a connection made by Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko while he was in Maastricht for a meeting of the European parliament's European People's Party group. According to the Telegraaf, Poroshenko said in a speech that not ratifying the treaty would 'set a dangerous precedent' and linked it to the investigation into the MH17 air disaster. The Netherlands is leading the investigation into the crash of the plane in Eastern Ukraine in July 2014. Asked about Poroshenko's remarks, Rutte told reporters the two issues should not be linked. 'It is not sensible,' Rutte said. 'MH17 is an extremely big issue and should not be mixed in with the treaty.' Rutte is currently in Brussels for an EU summit. The prime minister said he had discussed the Dutch position with other European leaders during a dinner on Thursday night. A Dutch 'no' to the treaty will have consequences for the peace process and the region's stability, Rutte told reporters. 'The Netherlands is not an island and we have to consider both domestic and international interests,' the prime minister said. 'We still have seven days and a lot can happen in that time,' Rutte said. He has pledged to report back to parliament on the official Dutch response to the referendum result by November 1. No vote The turnout in the April referendum was just 32%, but this was enough for the result to have legal weight. Some 62% of those who voted said no to the treaty. Rutte said immediately after the vote that the Netherlands can no longer ratify the treaty ‘just like that’. Even though the referendum was advisory, both ministers and opposition parties have said the result should be respected. Several referendum organisers have admitted they campaigned to hold the vote to put pressure on the Dutch relationship with the EU and force a discussion on Dutch membership of the 28-country block – which will be 27 when Britain leaves.  More >

Children rescued from burning car

Video: children rescued from burning car on Rotterdam motorway Amsterdam police have released dramatic dashcam footage showing parts of the rescue of two children from a burning car on Rotterdam’s A20 motorway. Police were alerted to the car fire by another driver and when they arrived at the scene, they saw a white van had stopped and its driver was already attempting to free the children. Service technician Vincent Bakker told the AD he had no doubts about what to do when he saw the car. ‘ I hurled my van onto the hard shoulder and ran to the car,’ he said. ‘The mother got out and she did not realise the car was on fire. She’d only seen smoke. Then she started screaming “my children, my children”,’ Bakker said. The car was locked and the doors could not be opened because of the electric locks. Bakker managed to smash open the glass in one door with his bare hands and got the baby out. The police video shows him running back to his van to get a crowbar to smash the back window so the boy, aged 3, could be brought to safety. He was rescued by a police officer who climbed in and ‘lost most of his curls’ because by then the fire had properly taken hold. The children and Bakker were uninjured, apart from a few scratches.   More >

Cheers for dear beers:calls for price hike

Schiphol taxi ‘harrassment’ slammed by lead singer of Skunk Anansie Beer is too cheap and needs a minimum price, according to the Dutch institute for alcohol policy, STAP. Director Win van Dalen told RTL Nieuws on Friday that weekly supermarket offers are selling beers for ‘ridiculous prices’ such as a crate for less than €5, or 20 cents a bottle. He said introducing a minimum price could drastically reduce alcohol abuse since his body believes such low prices attract young people and problem drinkers, with the result of alcoholism, crime and absenteeism. STAP cites six recent studies it says demonstrate a minimum price is the best solution, with drinks priced according to their alcohol percentage – and that crate of 24 bottles at around €8.50. A Bavaria spokesman told RTL Nieuws that it’s not mad on supermarket promotions, saying they don’t benefit the brand, but that ‘in a highly-competitive beer market, we as a relatively small operator are compelled to (partly) go along with them.’ Grolsch said it has a fixed price ‘on principle.’ But even if Dutch MPS voted for such a law, it might not mean cheers for dear beers. Scotland’s government implemented legislation for a minimum price on alcohol in 2012 – at 50p per unit – but a European court ruled last year that this breached EU free-trade rules after a legal battle led by the Scotch Whisky Association. The case has now returned to the domestic courts but the Scottish government still believes that there is ‘strong international evidence that tackling price – as part of a package of measures, including education and diversion – can help reduce alcohol consumption and related harm.’  More >

Husband wins right to bury wife in garden

A Limburg man has been told by Brunssum town council that he can leave his wife's grave in their garden after all. The council had ordered Frenk Windels to dig up his wife Susanna who died unexpectedly of a heart attack in July. He buried her in their garden before the council had taken a decision on whether or not to sanction the grave. Windels went to court to fight the order to dig up his wife, and judges told the council to take a proper decision within six weeks. Councillors have now decided the grave can stay, although they still plan to hold another debate on the case, local broadcaster 1Limburg.nl reported. ‘We were happily married for 34 years and we expected to have many more,’ Fred Windels wrote on Facebook ahead of the court hearing. ‘My wife’s last wish was to be buried in the garden which she created.’ Every year officials permit a limited number of garden burials on condition they are far enough from public roads, not visible to third parties and far enough away from sources of drinking water.  More >

Endless re-Piets; teacher protests

Schiphol taxi ‘harrassment’ slammed by lead singer of Skunk Anansie A new exhibition on Zwarte Piet in the media reveals that the figure has always changed and there is no ‘traditional’ norm, according to Het Parool. The display opened at the Persmuseum in Amsterdam on Thursday, and curator Jop Euwijk told Het Parool: ‘The people who say now that they want to preserve the Zwarte Piet of the past, should perhaps realise that this Piet does not exist. At least not in a fixed way. There has always been change.’ Euwijk, who is attached to historical research body Het Citaat, was commissioned by the Persmuseum and The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision to look through this body’s archives for historical representations of Santa’s helper. The recent incarnation of Zwarte Piet, blacked up and with thick lips, has caused a storm of controversy in the Netherlands and abroad. The children’s ombudsman, Magrite Kalverboer, was the latest influential figure to criticise him last month as contributing to ‘bullying, exclusion or discrimination’ and contravening the UN rights of the child. But Euwijk found that both Zwarte Piet and Sinterklaas have changed shape through time, with Santa veering to and from more Catholic representations and depictions of scary, servile Piet with a chain on his foot, but also as a wholly unblacked-up clown. New questions Meanwhile, the Telegraaf reports on Friday that a schoolteacher from a disadvantaged area in Utrecht, Pim Walenkamp, has asked for clarification about the children’s ombudsman’s research, claiming it stemmed from ‘a non-representative group’ of children and criticising her methods. A spokesman for the children’s ombudsman responded: ‘We have already admitted that the children with whom we spoke are not a representative sample. The children’s ombudsman considers the conversations enough to be indicative.’ Earlier this month, a court ruled that a Zwarte Piet protestor Jerry Afrijie was arrested with excessive force during a protest in 2014, a ruling the public prosecutor is appealing.  More >