Sunday

5th Dec 2021

Netherlands blasts Solana on alleged cartoon apologies

The Netherlands has sharply criticised EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana for the allegedly apologetic tone he has used when facing muslim countries in the row over Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed.

Dutch foreign minister Bernard Bot has put in a protest to Mr Solana objecting to remarks he made last week during his tour around muslim countries, a Dutch spokesman confirmed.

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

  • Dutch foreign minister Bernard Bot has protested over Mr Solana's apologetic tone (Photo: Dutch EU Presidency)

Among other things, the EU's top foreign policy official said after meeting the leader of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIS), Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu "I expressed our sincere regret that religious feelings have been hurt", vowing "to reach out...to make sure that people’s hearts and minds are not hurt again."

Dutch daily De Telegraaf quotes the Dutch state secretary for European Affairs Atzo Nicolai as characterising the tone used by Mr Solana as "shocking."

Speaking at a political debate on Monday (20 February) Mr Nicolai said "He has toured around in order to offer apologies. On behalf of whom, I ask. You and me? We haven't drawn those cartoons."

The Netherlands is also deeply unhappy with a joint statement issued on 7 February by Mr Solana on behalf of the EU together with the OIS leader and UN secretary-general Kofi Annan.

One passage of the statement says that "The anguish in the muslim world at the publication of these offensive caricatures is shared by all individuals and communities who recognise the sensitivity of deeply held religious belief."

The OIC is pushing for the United Nations to adopt a reference against blasphemy in the tenets of a new human rights body.

Mr Solana last week after meeting Mr Ihsanoglu signalled the EU might be supportive of this idea, stating "We are working on some ideas. I cannot be very precise, but we are working on some ideas that maybe it is possible to get through," according to Reuters.

Deutsche Welle quoted Mr Solana’s spokeswoman Cristina Gallach as saying "They want mechanisms to guarantee this is not repeated and we should be able to find it in UN conventions on human rights."

News in Brief

  1. Covid: Belgium might close schools and cultural activities
  2. EU consumers can sue Facebook, judge advised
  3. French centre-right tilts toward Pécresse
  4. EU urged to blacklist Israeli spyware firm
  5. Austria's ex-chancellor Kurz quits politics
  6. EU agency: Omicron to be over half of infections 'within months'
  7. New German restrictions target the unvaccinated
  8. EU commission unveils proposal to digitalise justice systems

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. Belgium tightens Covid rules as health system 'is cracking'
  2. EU and US tighten screw on Lukashenko
  3. Belgian impasse leaves asylum seekers on snowy streets
  4. EU 'missed chance' to set fossil-fuel subsidies deadline
  5. EU energy ministers clash amid gas price uncertainty
  6. ECJ told to dismiss Poland and Hungary rule-of-law challenge
  7. Covid: what Germany got right - and wrong
  8. Quick Take: Enrico Letta

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us