24th Mar 2018

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.

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  • 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 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."

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