Monday

29th Nov 2021

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

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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.

Opinion

Why Russia politics threaten European security

Russia could expand hostile operations, such as poisonings, including beyond its borders, if it feels an "existential" threat and there is no European pushback.

Analysis

Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity

Investing in the Arab world, in a smart way, is also investing in the European Union's future itself. Let's hope that the disasters of the last decade help to shape the neighbourhood policy of the next 10 years.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew report reveals bad environmental habits
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersImproving the integration of young refugees
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals

Latest News

  1. Consultancies pocketing EU millions prompts MEP grilling
  2. Russian mercenaries using EU-trained soldiers in Africa
  3. EUobserver wins right to keep VIP-jet story online
  4. New Covid-19 variant fears shake EU This WEEK
  5. Researchers slam EU safety review of glyphosate
  6. What EU political ads regulation will - and will not - deliver
  7. Dialogue and action – Nordic cooperation and view on COP26
  8. Belgium goes into three-week 'lockdown light'

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us