Dutch PM Wins No-Confidence Vote Over Scandal With Resigned Zijlstra – Reports

Dutch PM Wins No-Confidence Vote Over Scandal With Resigned Zijlstra – Reports
AP Photo/ Peter DejongEurope17:54 14.02.2018Get short URL

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte survived a motion of no-confidence, which was initiated by the government amid the scandal around resigned Foreign Minister Halbe Zijlstra, who had recently admitted that he lied about a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2006, dutchnews.nl news website reported Wednesday.

The scandal unraveled on Monday after the Volkskrant newspaper published an interview with Zijlstra, in which he admitted he had lied about attending a meeting with businessmen in Russia in 2006. Since 2014, Zijlstra repeatedly stated that he allegedly heard Putin’s comments on the Baltic states, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine parts to be parts of a “Greater Russia” at that meeting. Next day, Zijlstra announced his resignation, a day before a scheduled visit to Russia.

Late on Tuesday, Rutte said at a Dutch government meeting that he had underestimated the consequences of the Zijlstra’s lie, the website said.

Rutte admitted that he had learned about the lie two weeks ago, added that it was not a deliberate delay in reaction, but lamented that it was not done sooner.

READ MORE: Kaag Named Dutch Interim Foreign Minister After Zijlstra’s Resignation Over Lie

Rutte reportedly won the no-confidence vote by 43 to 101. The opposing members of the parliament wondered how Rutte could view Zijlstra as a foreign minister after learning the truth, and claimed that the issue damaged the country’s reputation.

The Russian embassy in Amsterdam said in a statement obtained by Sputnik on Tuesday that Zijlstra’s behavior was an internal affair of the Netherlands. Moscow strongly rejects foreign attempts to attach any “great-power ambitions” to Russia, the embassy added.