Despite tensions, king’s visit to Russia can go ahead, says minister

King Willem-Alexander can go ahead with his state visit to Russia next month, foreign minister Frans Timmermans told television show Nieuwsuur on Wednesday evening.

‘I think the visit can still take place,’ Timmermans said, after being questioned about the rising diplomatic tensions between the two countries.

The king’s visit is due to round off a year of celebrations to mark the 400 year relationship between the Netherlands and Russia. There had been calls for the trip to be cancelled following the attack on a Dutch diplomat in Moscow on Tuesday.


MPs are due on Thursday to debate the attack on Onno Elderenbosch, the Dutch embassy’s second in command, at his home by two men.

It is still too soon to demand an apology from Russia, Timmermans said. ‘We don’t know who the culprits are. We have to find that out first before we know who should apologise,’ he said. ‘Diplomats sometimes also have to deal with criminality.’

The minister spoke to his Russian counterpart Sergej Lavrov by phone on Wednesday but declined to say if he had repeated demands for the release of two Dutch activitists with environmental organisation Greenpeace.

They and 28 other members of the crew of the ship Arctic Sunrise are facing piracy charges for protesting at Russian drilling in Arctic waters.

The Netherlands is taking the issue to an international shipping tribunal. The Arctic Sunrise flies under the Dutch flag.

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