Monday 17 January 2022

Freedom of speech cannot be bargained with, says Dutch foreign minister

Bert KoendersThe Dutch government considers freedom of speech and the freedom of the press to be fundamental values which cannot be used as bargaining chips, foreign minister Bert Koenders said a briefing to parliament on Thursday.

‘We do not bargain with fundamental values, even if we are making agreements with a country about other issues’ Koeners said. ‘These are completely separate.’

Koenders was updating MPs on the arrest of Metro columnist Ebru Umar, who was picked up in Turkey last weekend after sending out two tweets considered to be insulting to Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Some commentators had suggested the Dutch response to the arrest had been muted because of the deal struck between the EU and Turkey on dealing with the refugee crisis.


The arrest, Koenders said, has generated strong reactions. ‘But I would urge people to listen to each other and accept each other’s opinion on the basis of freedom of speech and active tolerance,’ the minister said.

Umar, who has been banned from leaving the country, said on Thursday she is taking legal steps to renounce her Turkish nationality. ‘I’ve wanted to do it for some time but my parent were opposed to the idea,’ she said.

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