The fall-out of foreign affairs minister Stef Blok’s comments on multiculturalism and immigration continues to be felt, with Labour MPs now calling for parliament to be recalled for a debate.
The government of Curaçao has also issued a statement distancing itself from the comments, pointing out that Blok also speaks on behalf of the Caribbean part of the Netherlands.
‘The government cannot accept in any way these comments which strike at the very heart of the multicultural Curaçao society,’ the statement said. ‘It is our diversity which makes us powerful.’
Blok has been under fire since television current affairs show Zembla went public with footage of the minister at a meeting for Dutch nationals who work in foreign organisations.
‘I have asked my ministry this and I will pose the question here as well,’ Blok said. ‘Give me an example of a multi-ethnic or a multi-cultural society, in which the original population still lives, and where there is a peaceful cohabitation. I don’t know of one.’
The Financieele Dagblad points out that Blok’s words last week completely contradict the position taken on the government’s own website to promote foreign trade.
‘As one of the world’s most multicultural hubs for creative talent, Holland is, simply put, a great place to bring ideas to life,’ the website for the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency states, before going on to praise the ‘exceptional quality of life.’
In the Volkskrant, former VVD parliamentarian Arend Jan Boekesteijn argues that even though Blok has ‘taken back’ his words, that will not take away the damage he has done both in the Netherlands and abroad.
‘Blok would appear to have embraced the integration pessimism of the PVV, even though the 2016 report on integration by the CBS shows clear points of optimism,’ Boekesteijn said.
In addition, he points out, international companies use international teams to develop new ideas and products. ‘The power of diversity in these circles is not in doubt,’ he said.
The Dutch employers organisation VNO-NCW declined to comment on the potential impact of Blok’s words.
This, the FD says, is in sharp contrast to the role adopted by previous VNO-NCW chief who was quick to condemn statements by PVV leader Geert Wilders because of the damage they could do to the image of the Netherlands abroad.
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