Minister criticises Erdogan letter as Dutch Turks turn out to vote

Dutch social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees has described efforts by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to encourage Dutch Turks to vote in the parliamentary elections next week as inappropriate. Thousands of Dutch Turks have received a letter signed by Erdogan in which he urges them to vote. It is signed in his role as president and leader of the AK, and is being viewed as a call to vote for the ruling party. Some 250,000  Dutch Turks are able to vote in the elections from today. Polling stations are open until Tuesday in Deventer, The Hague and Amsterdam. Koolmees, who has integration in his portfolio, said the letter is a form of unwanted foreign interference in the Netherlands. It is important that 'Dutch Turks have a future in the Netherlands,' he said. Opponents of Erdogan in the Netherlands told broadcaster NOS the elections are extremely important because the opposition has the chance to make make major gains. 'If you see what has been happening in Turkey over the past 16 years, there is now a real opportunity for change,' one said. 'People are daring to talk again. There is a feeling that change could happen. And I hope it does.' Riots Meanwhile, five men have been given community service sentences for their role in riots outside the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam in March 2017. A sixth man man caught up in the violence was found not guilty. The trouble took place after the Dutch refused to allow a Turkish minister to attend a meeting at the consulate to promote the referendum giving the Turkish president more powers. A large number of people had gathered in front of the building and police brought in water cannon in an effort to break up the crowds. One of the five, who was handed down the longest sentence of 180 hours community service was found guilty of kicking a police officer in the head.  More >

Louboutin wins Dutch red sole case

Dutch shoe retail group Van Haren has lost its lengthy EU legal battle with luxury shoe group Louboutin over the use of distinctive red soles on women's footwear. Louboutin started the legal action in 2012, when Van Haren brought out a range of shoes by actress Halle Berry which included high heeled shoes with red soles. The French company said the shoes infringed the Louboutin trade mark and was granted a temporary injunction against the Dutch high street staple. In 2014 the case was referred to the European court for clarification and last year, advocate general Maciej Szpunar said in his advice to the court that it should find in Van Haren's favour in a complicated ruling about shape and colour. Under EU law, shapes cannot be registered as trademarks and Van Haren argued that the soles of shoes are therefore not trademarked. However, the court has gone against the recommendations of the advocate general and found in favour of the French brand. The EU court has 'confirmed that the legal regime governing shape trademarks does not apply to Christian Louboutin's red sole mark,' the French company said in a statement. The case will now be referred back to The Hague court for its final ruling.    More >

CDA and Hungary's Fidesz in war of words

The Dutch Christian Democratic party is involved in a war or words with its Hungarian counterpart after passing a motion at the weekend to have the party of Viktor Orbán potentially expelled from the EPP European parliamentary grouping. Nationalist Orbán, who won a third term in office in April election, has a populist, anti-immigration and Eurosceptic message and has been criticised for his attacks on Hungarian-born Jewish billionaire George Soros. The CDA conference in Den Bosch has now voted to throw the Fidesz party out of the EPP if it crosses 'red lines' - in other words, does not abide by European norms and values, Dutch media reported. Following the weekend vote, Orbán's party has now accused the CDA of spreading lies. In a letter to CDA leader Sybrand Buma, Fidesz deputy president Katalin Novák states that resolution 'is a lie if it says our party spread fake information during the election.’ ‘Nor are we taking revenge on the opposition. That is a lie as well. And in addition, we are not trying to work against European cooperation. That is a lie too.’ The letter also notes that Buma recently had a private meeting with Orbán but did not raise these issues at the time. CDA chairwoman Ruth Peetoom said in a reaction she would reply personally to the letter and highlight the fact that the motion came from party members. It should be possible to have ‘stern discussions’ within the European Christian Democratif family, she told broadcaster NOS. According to EU Observer earlier this year, other members of the EPP have also pushed for Fidesz to be expelled from the grouping. BREEK - Fidesz partij van Orban verbreekt banden met CDA tot de partij excuses maakt voor mensenrechtenresolutie. Snelle vertaling van statement Fidezs 🔽 — Emile Affolter (@emileaffolter) June 4, 2018   More >

Friesland underrated: Lonely Planet

Friesland has come third in travel guide publisher Lonely Planet’s annual list of underrated European holiday destinations, public broadcaster NOS writes. It’s the first time a Dutch destination makes it this far up the list. According to Lonely Planet, Friesland is ‘a hidden pearl’ too often ignored by travellers. The guide calls European cultural capital Leeuwarden ‘atmospheric and compact’ and praises the landscape and Frisian Wadden islands. Emilia-Romagna in Italy and Cantabria in Spain came first and second. Friesland may be in for a busy time as a result of the mention in the list, NOS writes. Rotterdam, which ended in fifth place in 2005 and Texel, which took ninth place in 2016, both saw an increase in the number of tourists.  More >