Sunday

23rd Sep 2018

Wilders says Russia is 'no enemy' ahead of Moscow visit

  • Until recently Wilders (r) has been much less vocal about defending Russia than his French ally Le Pen (Photo: European Parliament)

Russia is "not an enemy" to the Netherlands, Dutch anti-EU politician Geert Wilders said in an interview published on Wednesday (22 November), ahead of a visit to Moscow in the New Year.

The far-right opposition MP, who leads the second-largest party in the lower house of the Dutch parliament, said there was "hysterical Russophobia" to which he wanted to provide a counter-narrative.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Wilders will visit Moscow early next year (Photo: EUobserver)

"Russia is not our enemy, and we should not make it one," he told Dutch weekly magazine Elsevier. "Russia is on our side."

Wilders said it was understandable that Russia feels threatened by the expansion of the northern Atlantic alliance Nato.

"I'm a big fan of Nato and of the Americans, but Russia has a good point here," he said.

The interview comes ahead of a visit early next year of Wilders to Moscow, which has been behind several attempts to undermine the EU and is under sanctions because of the invasion of Crimea and support for insurgents in Ukraine.

Wilders has not been as outspoken about Russia as some other far-right politicians who defend Russia, like French former presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, whose National Front party has received a loan from a bank with ties to the Kremlin.

Wilders stressed in the interview that he would not accept loans or gifts from Moscow. "I never did and I never will."

He said his visit to Moscow would be his first in ten years.

But members of his Party for Freedom have supported a pro-Russia position in the European Parliament on several occassions.

They voted against two resolutions in March and April which criticised the situation in Crimea and the arrest of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny respectively. The texts were adopted by 74 and 79 percent of MEPs.

Fake news

Nevertheless, some of Wilders' critique of 'Russiaphobia' has some merit.

Last week Dutch politicians were up in arms over a warning from newly-appointed minister for interior affairs Kajsa Ollongren that Russia may be influencing Dutch political opinion through fake news.

But her letter to parliament was criticised for giving only one example of a website of fake news, which journalists later said was nowhere to be found.

Wilders' Moscow visit should also be seen in the context of his anti-Islam views, and the fact that as a leader of a party outside of government the MP is searching for ways to stay noticed.

Wilders said that Russia should be seen as "an ally in the fight against terrorism and mass immigration from Africa".

Dutch group combats Wilders' rhetoric online

Volunteers have gone online for the past two weeks, in an attempt to persuade potential voters for the anti-EU and anti-Islam leader to vote someone else.

Opinion

Eastern partners, eastern problems

The EU must hold out the olive branch of possible membership in the distant future - but the current domestic problems in the ex-Soviet states, let alone their links to Russia make more than that difficult.

EU wants continental free-trade deal with Africa

Earlier this week, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in his state of the union announced a new relationship with Africa. On Friday, his subordinates outlined the vision, promising jobs and growth by leveraging public funds for investments.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK
  2. Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia
  3. Sound of discord at 'Sound of Music' Salzburg summit
  4. Salzburg summit presses for bigger Frontex mandate
  5. UK's post-Brexit plan 'will not work', EU says
  6. Airbnb agrees to clarify pricing for EU
  7. Libya keeps coast guards rejected by the EU
  8. EU divisions on menu at Salzburg dinner

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us