The secretary general of the council of Europe has written to foreign minister Uri Rosenthal urging the Dutch government to ‘clarify its position’ regarding a website set up by Geert Wilders’ PVV to collect complaints about central and eastern European nationals.
While emphasising the right to freedom of expression, Thorbjørn Jagland’s letter says: ‘I am concerned because it is hosted by a political party which is linked to the governing coalition.’
The secretary general also expresses the hope that the Dutch government will publicly distance itself from the content of the website. The council of Europe is an international organisation set up to promote human rights and democracy.
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has said repeatedly the website is a matter for the PVV alone but has refused to distance himself from the initiative. The PVV, while not officially part of the government, has a formal alliance with the minority cabinet and will soon take part in talks on making new spending cuts.
Meanwhile, in Britain, 11 MPs from all sides of the political spectrum have signed a motion calling on the Dutch government to distance itself from the PVV website.
The motion notes that ‘the PVV supports the minority government of Mark Rutte, who has remained silent on the issue, and calls on the Dutch prime minister to disassociate the Dutch government from the PVV campaign and demand the website is discontinued’.
The website has already been condemned by European commissioners, MEPs, employers’ leaders, ambassadors and migrant labour groups.
The website places newspaper headlines such as ‘Eastern Europeans, increasingly criminal’ alongside a complaints hotline. The PVV says the aim is to gain insight into ‘problems caused by central and eastern Europeans in terms of crime, alcoholism, drugs use, dumping household waste and prostitution’.
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What the papers say
Dear Dutch people
PVV site is not discriminatory