Prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende is considering attending the opening ceremony of the Olympic games in Beijing but a boycott has not been ruled out, foreign minister Maxime Verhagen told MPs on Tuesday evening.
Speaking during a debate on human rights, Verhagen said he is still discussing the matter with his European colleagues. Balkenende plans to attend the opening along with sports minister Jet Bussemaker.
‘If you go it alone, you shut the door on trade, human rights projects and projects in Tibet, ‘ the Volkskrant quotes the minister as saying.
Of the three governing parties, only the ChristenUnie is fully behind a boycott, but there is a growing demand for Balkenende to stay at home this summer.
On Tuesday evening former Christian Democrat prime minister Dries van Agt told tv news programme Netwerk that he does not want the Dutch government to be represented at the opening ceremony. He also said he would ‘prefer it’ if Prince Willem-Alexander, a member of the International Olympic Committee, stayed away.
Van Agt refused to attend the opening ceremony of the Games in Moscow in 1980 in protest at the Russian invasion of Afghanistan at the end of 1979.
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