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THE NETHERLANDS 2013 As another new year begins it is time to look back at the year that was in the Netherlands. The top domestic stories, international coverage of the Dutch and a right royal year p4,5,6
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A new year in the Netherlands. A fresh start for some, another year older for others. It has been a crazy year for the Low Country in 2013. Horsemeat scandals, problems with Russia, international focus on some questionable Dutch traditions, earthquakes in Groningen, royals hopping on and off the throne and, amidst it all, the great belt-tightening that has characterised many a nation in recent times. (p 4-6, 9) But January is a time for looking forward as much as it is a time to examine the year that was. 2014 could be a great year for this country; provided it learns that international opinion is not something to be scoffed at – especially when it comes to discrimination. It may be a new year, but the problems highlighted by the Zwarte Piet controversy have not gone away. Declan Aylward, Editor-in-Chief
Just look at Russia’s upcoming Winter Olympics and the caustic international opinion surrounding them. (p23) While it is very easy to condemn another nation for institutionalised discrimination, it is quite ridiculous to do so while ignoring a very similar situation in your own home. What is the old saying? Charity starts at home. Well so does self-improvement. Have something to say to the editor? Email: email@example.com
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Dutch couple released
SANA’A | A Dutch couple held hostage
in Yemen since June has been released unharmed and in good health, according to a report by Aljazeera. Freelance journalist Judith Spiegel, who had been working in Yemen as a researcher, and her partner Boudewijn Berendsen disappeared after they left their home in Sanaa in June. The couple were received by the Dutch Ambassador and flown home to the Netherlands safely. Nobody has as yet claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. Abductions are relatively common in Yemen, with disgruntled tribesmen or Al Qaeda-linked fighters the main culprits.
The year in review: 2013
Syrian negotiation lessons
THE HAGUE | Members of the Syrian opposition in exile have been given lessons by the Dutch in how to perform effectively at crucial peace talks next year in Geneva, reports Lebanon’s Daily Star. Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans (PvdA), who funded the training in December at the Clingendael think tank, said the sessions were aimed at strengthening the Western-backed Syrian National Coalition’s hand at the negotiating table. The Geneva peace conference is scheduled for 22 January and it is expected that the coalition will be the chief opposition negotiator for Syria in talks with representatives of President Bashar Assad.
Row over security scanner
TEL AVIV | The installation of a state-of-
the-art security scanner at the Karem Shalom crossing on the Gaza border has been stalled amid political disputes, according to a number of media sources. Prime Minister Mark Rutte (VVD) was supposed to inaugurate the scanner at a ceremony last month. However, according to the Haaretz newspaper, the event was cancelled due to the Israeli government’s refusal to allow Gaza’s imports and exports to resume, even with a security scanner.
Photo: David Katz
Blasphemy law repealed
THE HAGUE | An out-dated law banning blasphemy has been repealed by the Dutch government, reports the National Secular Society. Yet there is concern that a compromise reached to placate religious parties may harm free speech further. A decision was approved that will permit an amendment to another statute in order to outlaw “serious insult to religion.” Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society claims that, “Protecting religion from ‘insult’ gives the green light to every extremist in the country to start using the law to try to restrict free speech.”
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As the new year comes around it is often good to look back at what has passed. DECLAN AYLWARD looks at the major national stories cover by The Holland Times in 2013. The year gone by was one that saw a lot of ups and downs for the Netherlands, both internationally and at home. The shocking abdication of the queen and her replacement by King Willem-Alexander was of course one of the most visible events of the year, covered later in this issue. One of the less flashy ups for the Dutch came in the form of the Dutch Minister of Finance Jeroen Dijsselbloem (PvdA) being appointed president of the Euro Group of European finance ministers in January. Dijsselbloem had not been finance minister in the Netherlands for very long – having only taken the job in November 2012 – and his taking over for Luxembourg’s Jean Claude Juncker put the financial spotlight right on this country. The spotlight got slightly brighter when the Eindhoven native decided to nationalise lender SNS Reaal NV shortly after being appointed. This attention on Dutch finance continued in March and April when the controversy and debate surrounding so-called post-box companies in the Netherlands escalated. Starbucks, Google and Apple among others were accused of using the Netherlands to avoid paying tax in other countries in which they operate. These accusations led Starbucks Financial Director Troy Alstead to tell the British House
of Commons Committee that we was forbidden from revealing his company’s financial arrangements with the Dutch government; a statement that State Secretary for Finance Frans Weekers (VVD) called “complete nonsense” during a March parliamentary debate. But of course, there could be no mention of scandal in 2013 without reference to the meatiest of them all: the horsemeat scandal. On 24 January, Burger King in the UK discovered horsemeat in burgers supplied by Silvercrest, a subsidiary of ABP foods of Ardee, Ireland. This was merely the first domino to fall, and soon supermarkets and restaurants throughout Europe were found to have horsemeat in what purported to be beef products. The Netherlands was no exception, even respected Amsterdam steakhouse Piet de Leeuw was found to have been selling horsemeat – although admittedly this had been going on since 1949 when the horse butcher father of current owner Loek van Thiel started the restaurant. The scandal led State Secretary for Economic Affairs Sharon Dijksma (PvdA) to ask the Dutch Food and Commodities Authority (Nederlandse Voedsel en Warenautoritiet, NWA) to investigate. The problem was found to be serious, but calls for more
health inspectors were ignored. Eventually the scandal led to the arrest of Dutch businessman Willy Selten in May on suspicion of fraud and false accounting. His company, based in Oss south of Rotterdam, was one of the suppliers of ABP and 21 percent of Selten’s “beef” was found to contain horsemeat. And while we were trying to discover what was in our burgers, the government spent its time trying to read what was in our email inboxes. At the beginning of the summer, Minister for Security and Justice Ivo Opstelten (VVD) proposed an increase in the powers granted to police in the online realm in order to fight child pornography and DDoS attacks by hackers. The proposed new powers would allow Dutch authorities to hack into computers, including those in foreign countries. Digital rights group Bits of Freedom criticised the plans. “If the Dutch government gets the power to break into foreign computers, this gives other governments the basis to break into Dutch computers which infringe the laws of their country,” a statement at the time read. This statement would turn out to be more portentous than anybody realised, as in June of this year NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed information about the US
agency’s activities spying on the Netherlands – among many other countries – by hacking computer systems, infiltrating social media sites with the infamous PRISM system and listening to phone calls. The NSA tapped 1.8 million phone calls in a month in the Netherlands and then passed some of the data to Dutch intelligence services. A statement by the Dutch government in September seemed to indicate that this was not entirely unexpected or unwelcome. “The US spies on these countries and their people, but also works with them,” the statement read, “For example, if the government of such a country is interested in a particular population group, they can get information on them from US security. In exchange, the Americans will spy on the rest of the system.” The Dutch people seemed less impressed, however, and a court case has been initiated in which a coalition of privacy organisations, journalists and lawyers is suing the Dutch government to, “declare that the Dutch state was acting illegally by receiving information from foreign intelligence services, which had been collected through spy programmes like (the NSA’s) PRISM, contrary to Dutch law.” But hey, what is a little loss of freedom if the government can make the trains run on time? One of the other embarrassments for the Dutch in 2013 was the debacle surrounding the high speed Fyra train service between Amsterdam and Brussels. Introduced in December 2012, the Fyra service was supposed to provide high speed access between the two cities, so much so that the existing intercity trains were scrapped. However, the Fyra service was scrapped after only a short operating time due to excessive technical difficulties – resulting in scandal for Dutch national operator NS and Belgian operator NMBS. As the story progressed, a focus on cutting costs was revealed in the selection process of trains and companies, leading to the awarding of the contract to make the trains to Italian company AnsaldoBreda over more established German or French companies. AnsaldoBreda wound up taking the brunt of the blame, with a legal battle initiated by NS to force the Italian company to come and take back the 16 defective trains, which has been gathering dust in Watergraafsmeer. However, NS chief Bert Meerstadt also resigned from his post as a result of the scandal. We also had attacks by exotic tiger mosquitoes, the usual back and forth about budgets and party popularity as well as an outbreak of measles in the Dutch bible belt; let’s see what 2014 has in store.
Amsterdam Rotterdam Liège The Hague (2014)
JANUARY 2014 | 5
Netherlands in the world’s view 2013
Water firm leaves Israel
TEL AVIV | Dutch water supplier Vitens
last month ended a partnership with Israeli water company Mekorot, as reported by the Ma’an News Agency. The move has led to much controversy, with the Dutch ambassador to Israel being summoned to explain “ambiguous language” from the Dutch government in relation to the incident. Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans (PvdA) denied that the cabinet had anything to do with the company’s decision. In a statement, Vitens said it had come to the conclusion that it was “extremely hard” to work with Mekorot on future projects “because they cannot be taken out of the political context.”
More privacy for refugees
AMSTERDAM | Sick asylum seekers are allowed more privacy when speaking to a doctor. In 2014 the privacy of waiting rooms in the general practice at the Health Centre for Asylum Seekers in Reception Centres will be improved with new furniture and extra partitions. State Secretary Fred Teeven (VVD) adopts these recommendations in a report by the National Ombudsman on medical care for foreign nationals. Mr. Teeven will also investigate the availiblity of patient transport for asylum seekers from Reception Centres.
Photo: Tambako the Jaguar
There has been plenty of coverage of Dutch stories over the last year in the international press. ALICE BURKE takes a look at some reporting on the Netherlands from outside the country last year. It has been a year of highlights for the lowlands; the coronation of King Willem Alexander, the announcement that after a year in economic recession, we had finally emerged on the other side, and a stunning summer with temperatures peaking at 31 degrees Celsius in mid-July. We also had some not so positive moments, with relations with Russia becoming increasingly strained as the year progressed, a progression that stood out as being even more disappointing considering that 2013 had been pitched as a “year of friendship” to strengthen bilateral relations between the countries. It was a year where the UN took us to task on the issue of Zwarte Piet, a move that does not seem to have had any impact on the traditional festivities so far. We also bid farewell to Prince Friso, who passed away in August following a skiing accident in February of 2012. Let’s take a look at the year, and find out how the world’s media saw us at various points throughout 2013. January’s main news story from the Netherlands was the same the world over: the announcement of the abdication of Queen Beatrix. Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s (VVD) quote
that the Queen had “applied herself heart and soul for the Dutch society” was a particular favourite of broadsheets from London to New York. In February, the world saw wave after wave of revelations pertaining to horsemeat masquerading as beef in supermarkets and wholesalers internationally. The Guardian reported on allegations that a Breda warehouse was potentially at the centre of the distribution ring of the infamous horsemeat. The company involved, Draap Trading, “is a Cypriot-registered company, run from the Antwerp area of Belgium, and owned by an offshore vehicle based in the British Virgin Islands. Draap spelled backwards is the Dutch word for horse,” explained the Guardian, showing that sometimes you really can judge a book by its cover. Dutch companies Wiljo Import en Export BV and Vleesgroothandel Willy Selten BV were also found to have been deeply involved, with owner Willy Selten being arrested in May. Prime Minister Mark Rutte made international headlines for very different reasons than usual in March, with Vanity Fair proclaiming him to be the world’s 3rd best-dressed world leader. “The Dutch prime minister’s crin-
kly eyed smile and lush, impressiveon-a-20-year-old hairline appear all the more ruggedly handsome aside his delicate frameless glasses. His classic, understated style suggests his tailor must be as good as his optometrist,” they wrote of Prime Minister Rutte. April saw the coronation of the King, and also a sharp-tongued opinion piece in The New York Times, entitled “Ditch the King. Hire an Actor.” Arnon Grunberg wrote “And wouldn’t it be nice if, from now on, auditions were held for the roles of king and queen? One could probably find candidates who have far more acting ability than the current royal family and who would also be willing to perform for a fraction of the salary.” Earthquakes in Groningen made the news across the water in June, with The Telegraph reporting on tremors caused by the extraction of gas from shale rocks in the region. The report was dark in its predictions: “Last year, the Dutch state made 12 billion British pounds in government revenues from the Groningen gas fields and if the cash flow was switched off the country would quickly go bankrupt.” Immigration once again raised its head in August, with The Economist
reporting that, “worries about workers from eastern Europe are changing Dutch politics”. The article discussed the lack of Dutch workers employed at power stations in Eemshaven and showed us once again how our politicians can never resist a good dyke metaphor, referencing an article by Lodewijk Asscher (PvdA), vice prime minister, where he said “the dykes are on the point of breaking.” Buried in the piece is a mention of a study carried out by the Ministry of Social Affairs, which pointed out that “most east European immigrants take jobs that no Dutch worker would accept, such as picking vegetables in greenhouses.” Overall, a year of mixed news. We will never escape the prominence of the immigration issue it would seem, and the monarchy remains a topic of heated debate, as the monarchy always does in any country. We saw St. Jude the storm batter the north of the country and take a life in Amsterdam, and we’ll surely see a December of discussions regarding how big the freeze will be for the winter. But we can all agree on one thing; the hope that 2014 bring more good news than bad for the Netherlands.
AMSTERDAM | Fingerprints and digital passport photos are to be introduced to improve the identity check of foreign nationals when they apply for a residence permit as the result of a newly approved bill. The use of biometric data will also be introduced for family migration and residence permits for study or work purposes. This is already done for foreign nationals seeking asylum. All services having to do with issuing and checking residence permits will work with the fingerprints and the digital passport photos in a central database.
Minister denied access
HEBRON | The Palestinian Ambassador to the Netherlands Nabil Abuznaid has claimed that a planned visit to the old city of Hebron by Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans (PvdA) was cancelled last month when Israeli authorities refused to allow the Minister access without an Israeli military escort, reports the FARS news agency. When the foreign minister refused these conditions, which the ambassador described as “unprecedented” for visiting dignitaries, he was forced to cancel his visit. Timmermans was, however, able to visit sites outside of the Old City in Hebron.
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Illegal checks planned
THE HAGUE | The Hague and Rotterdam look set to ignore warnings that planned policies in dealing with Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants in 2014 will constitute discrimination. The move comes in the wake of citizens being allowed free movement within the EU from the start of this year. Both cities plan to deny Romanians and Bulgarians automatic access to citizen service numbers (BSN) as experienced by other nationalities with free movement. “The government and Brussels tell us that the law prevents us from doing this, but we are going to do it anyway,” a Rotterdam alderman told The Irish Times.
The Dutch Royal House in 2013
Divorce out of court
THE HAGUE | Couples will soon be able to settle their own divorce via the Registrar’s office if there is mutual agreement and no minor children are involved. The settlement will be simple, cheap and conveniently arranged. This is clear from a bill sent for advice to various organisations by the State Secretary of Security and Justice Fred Teeven (VVD). The measure results from the coalition agreement. The bill aims to give couples who are in agreement about their divorce as much responsibility about arranging for it as possible. Court intervention is currently compulsory.
Máxima ready for regency
THE HAGUE | If the need should arise, Queen Máxima will now be able to act as regent of the Kingdom. This was decided recently during a Joint Session of the Two Houses of the States General, with the members of both the House of Representatives and the Senate convening in the Hall of Knights especially for the occasion. If Princess Amalia should become queen by hereditary succession before reaching the age of 18, Queen Máxima will assume her duties. If Queen Máxima should die before that time, Prince Constantijn will instead be appointed regent.
New quartermaster chosen
THE HAGUE | Minister of Security and Justice Ivo Opstelten (VVD) has appointed a new quartermaster of the national Emergency Response Organisation. Mrs J.M. (Jill) Wilkinson is set to take over the position, which is central for the effectiveness of emergency response in the Netherlands. She will be responsible in the coming years for the transition of the 22 emergency response centres to one national emergency response organisation with ten locations. This is intended to increase efficiency and response times. With that she will also be responsible for the management of the current emergency response centres.
Photo: Koos Breukel
With abdications and investitures, family tragedy and international incidents, 2013 has been an interesting royal year. AARYA NARAYAN takes a closer look at the royal family’s activities. The year 2013 proved to be an eventful year for the Dutch Royal House. Happy moments such as the King’s coronation occurred, but sorrowful moments such as Prince Friso’s death also took place. As the new year begins, it is time for a recap of the royals’ year. The happiest event took place on 30 April, when Queen Beatrix abdicated in favour of Prince WillemAlexander, who became King. His wife became Queen Máxima and his eldest daughter, Princess Catharina-Amalia now also bears the title Princess of Orange. When her father leaves the throne, she will take over. Guests from all over the world had flown over to witness this event. The ceremony began around 14:00 in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam. After swearing the oath, the inauguration took place. This was followed by the
King’s speech in which he thanked his mother for all her hard work and spoke of his own vision of trust between the government and the people. He also mentioned the hard economic times and how kingship needs to adjust to the current circumstances. Afterwards, the reception was hosted in Dam Palace followed by other festivities. The evening ended with a feast at Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ. A few months later, prince Friso, who had been in a coma for 18 months, passed away. In February 2012, the prince was buried in an avalanche in Lech, Austria where he was enjoying a skiing vacation with his family. He was rescued but remained unconscious. The prince passed away on 12 August, at the age of 44. The memorial service took place in the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft; this is the same church where prince
Friso was married to his wife Mabel Wisse Smit in 2004. Over 900 people attended the service including the Dutch Royal House, the Prime Minister Mark Rutte (VVD), members of other royal houses, Kofi Annan, Desmond Tutu and Bono. He was buried on 16 August at his mother’s castle in Lage Vuursche. Prince Friso is the first royal in several generations who was not buried at the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft. Local media supposed that he no longer felt officially part of the Dutch Royal House when his wife was disapproved of because of a previous relationship with a Dutch drug baron. The past year was also celebrated as the Netherlands-Russia year. However, this year, which was meant to celebrate the ties between the nations, has been overshadowed by a series of incidents. The incidents
began in January with the suicide of Aleksandr Dolmatov who remained in a Dutch detention centre awaiting deportation. Minister for Migration Fred Teeven (VVD) admitted that he had been neglected. Then, a Russian law on homosexuality, forbidding non-traditional relationships caused commotion in February. Minister for Foreign Affairs Frans Timmermans (PvdA) expressed concern, which displeased his Russian colleague Lavrov who believed that neighbours should not tell each other how to govern one another’s country. The visit of Putin in April to commence the Netherlands-Russia year led to protests in Amsterdam about human rights in Russia. Four Dutch documentary makers were arrested in Russia on grounds of promoting homosexuality, but were later released. In September the Russian authorities arrested the captain and crew of the Greenpeace Ship Arctic Sunrise, which sails under the Dutch flag. They were charged with piracy. On 5 of October the Russian diplomat Dmitri Borodin was arrested because he supposedly abused his children. This action violated his diplomatic immunity and led to protests in Moscow in front of the Dutch embassy. President Putin demanded an apology, which Minister Timmermans provided. On 14 October the Dutch diplomat Onno Elderenbosch was beaten up in his residence in Moscow. He is the second-in-command at the embassy. On the night of 17 to 18 October a building of the Russian embassy was broken into. The police assumed that this incident was unrelated to the diplomatic issues between the Netherlands and Russia. During the same night the Greenpeace office in Moermansk was broken into too. A cage meant to be used for a protest was stolen. Despite these incidents and the tension between the Netherlands and Russia, the royal couple King WillemAlexander and Queen Maxima visited Russia to celebrate the ties between Holland and Russia in November. Disturbances occurred, but they were handled by the Russian police. The National Bolshevik party claims that two of its members hurled tomatoes at the royal couple. However, none hit the King or Queen, and Russian police promptly arrested the two activists. Party leader Eduard Limonov told Russia’s Ria Novosti news agency that the pelting was intended to draw attention to the suicide of Aleksandr Dolmatov as opposed to any of the other issues between the two countries. In December, King Willem-Alexander attended the memorial service of Nelson Mandela in South Africa. He was accompanied by Minister Timmermans.
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JANUARY 2014 | 7
Beer for work scheme in Amsterdam
Filipinos can stay longer
THE HJAGUE | Filipino au pairs and other Filipino migrants in the Netherlands do not have to return to their home country if they are from the area that was hit by the typhoon Haiyan. They can stay in the Netherlands until 1 March 2014, even if their residence permit has expired according to a recent government statement. State Secretary Fred Teeven (VVD) wants to allow Filipinos, who would have to leave in the coming months because their residence entitlement expires, a little bit more time in the Netherlands. Filipinos who wish to be eligible under this regulation, can submit a written request to the IND.
No troops sent to CAR
THE HAGUE | The Netherlands will not send military troops to the Central African Republic (CAR), Minister of Foreign Affairs Frans Timmermans (PvdA) said prior to a meeting with his European Union colleagues in Brussels in December, according to China’s Shanghai Daily. The Netherlands might support the French peacekeeping mission in the CAR with transportation, “but there is nothing concrete yet,” he told reporters. “We cannot send troops. That is too much for us to do right now,” he said.
Official insults Mandela
Photo: Matt Watson
The Netherlands made the international news at the end of last year when a controversial scheme paying alcoholics in beer came to light. ALICE BURKE investigates the scheme, and the international response. In an unusual end-of-year news story, Amsterdam hit international headlines in November when a local charity’s program to pay alcoholics in beer for cleaning up local parks appeared to stun international media. De Regenboog, or Rainbow Group Foundation, calls itself an “NGO committed to people with social problems, the homeless, the poor, drug users and those with psychiatric problems.” The group also provides buddy systems for mental health issues, financial coaching for those struggling with debt and a shelter network for the homeless. On its website it lists a large number of churches as donors and also companies such as Accenture BV and Delta Lloyd foundation. The New York Times reported that the workers on the beer-for-work project received five or six cans of beer per working day, plus an allowance of half a packet of rolling tobacco, lunch and a sum of 10 euro per day. The New York Times report also notes that the Rainbow Group Foundation does receive government funding but that it “insists that it pays for
the beer given to…alcoholics out of its own funds,” so as to “shield the government from criticism.” Gerrie Holterman, project coordinator at Rainbow Group Foundation, spoke to news agency AFP, explaining that “the aim is to keep them occupied, to get them doing something so they no longer cause trouble at the park.” The park Ms. Holterman was referring to was Amsterdam’s Oosterpark. An opinion post on international news site Foreign Policy, referred to the AFP’s explanation that the scheme was an example of “Dutch pragmatism,” but also raised the issue of ethical problems in paying an addict in the poison of their choice. “Dutch pragmatism,” Foreign Policy said, “is probably an allusion to the kind of permissiveness behind the country’s famously lax drug and prostitution laws.” Quotes from the participants in the scheme seemed to show a satisfaction with what was on offer. The Daily Mail said that Vincent, a former baker, said, “when I get home, I’ve already had a busy day and I don’t necessarily want to drink.
“We also feel satisfied, a job well done, contributing to society despite the fact that we drink.” Another participant, Fred, told the New York Times, “I’m not proud of being an alcoholic, but I am proud to have a job again.” Discussions under the online version of the New York Times original article became heated, with Dutch and international readers weighing in. Many raised the issue that the scheme appears to perpetuate the cycle of addiction and not offer an exit: “It seems a good idea in a lot of ways but what bothers me is that there is no exit to the alcoholism.” Others commented that the sense of confidence achieved by participants in working as a cleaner could be seen as the first step to gaining the strength to seek help and treatment for alcoholism. And Elysia, a Dutch reader, commented, “I’ve seen these people (I live next to the park they talk about), and they are far from falling-in-the-street drunk. Just a bit more jovial than your average street cleaners.” Fatima Elatik, (PvdA), the district
mayor of Amsterdam Oost, told the New York Times that Amsterdam’s alcoholics “cannot be just ostracised” and told to shape up. It is better to give them something to do and restrict their drinking to a limited amount of beer with no hard liquor. Schemes like this are not unique to the Netherlands. Similar programs have run in Canada, but the scheme looks to be expanded in the Netherlands to other areas apart from Amsterdam, and has continued largely without a hitch so it would appear to be quite successful here for the time being. Hans Wijnand’s, director of the Rainbow Group Foundation, said the scheme was a stepping stone to helping people recover and that unrealistic views of getting everyone to stop drinking were not the main aim of the foundation. “It would be beautiful if they all stopped drinking, but that is not our main goal,” he added. “You have to give people an alternative, to show them a path other than just sitting in the park and drinking themselves to death.”
AMSTERDAM | GroenLinks Amsterdam official John de Laet resigned last month over a scandal following a Tweet in which he compared deceased South African leader Nelson Mandela to Zwarte Piet. De Laet tweeted: “Does anyone care if the draw for the 2014 World Cup is fair tomorrow, following the death of the chief Piet?” The comment came amid fierce debate in the Netherlands over the perceived racism of the Zwarte Piet character. It is claimed by many Dutch people that Piet is black because of soot acquired while climbing in chimneys. Others claim he is an obvious racial stereotype.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Netherlands blocks Albania BRUSSELS | The Dutch parliament has
voted against a government proposal to grant Albania the status of EU candidate, preventing EU leaders from rubberstamping the proposal during a summit in Brussels on 19-20 December, reports Euractiv.com. The development is likely to inflict a heavy blow to the accession hopes of the Western Balkan nation, which according to the Commission has delivered on EU requirements and so should be granted the status of candidate country. The VVD reportedly voted to block Albania, while the PvdA voted in favour.
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8 | JANUARY 2014
21 years â€“ celebration of the Slovak Republic In this interview Nanda Jagusiak-Monteiro speaks with the Ambassador of Slovakia, H.E. Dr. Jaroslav Chlebo. added value. This means research and development activities as well as promotion of start-ups with innovative potential.
H.E. Dr. Jaroslav Chlebo.
1. How do you find living in the creasing line over this period? Netherlands? As you have said, we went through It was a big change for me to come the transition and that is not about here, because my previous posting application of a verified model. We was Athens with its 320 days of sun- had our ups, but also downs (banking shine per year. But sincerely, I am crisis on the fall of the millenium). very satisfied. I have found an inter- Our economy has also been affected esting environment here for work as by recession after the global financial well as for private life. meltdown started in 2008. But figIt is always a challenge for a dip- ures say as well that ours has been lomat to come to new country of his the fastest growing economy in the posting. EU in the last decade. By these terms The value of this type of work, at we steadily improve compared to our least for me, lays in the opportunity better-positioned partners. to meet interesting people. And the Netherlands represents abundant op- 3. In which way did your country portunity at this respect. attract foreign investors? 2. Since the establishment of the Slovak Republic in January 1993, Slovakia has undergone a transition from a centrally planned economy to a free market economy. Was the economic growth a steadily in-
By the quality of our labour force mostly. But political stability also played an important role. Extensive forms of investment are already a matter of the past, nowadays we focus on investment into projects with high
the only branch of our industrial base. Reshaping our economy in recent years has resulted in a solid basis for the electronic industry (the most important export item to the Netherland 4. How are the bilateral relations are TV sets), and a booming ITC secbetween Slovakia and the Nether- tor, especially software production. lands? 6. The Netherlands is well known Bilateral relations between Slova- for its agricultural knowledge? Is kia and the Netherlands are a new there a narrow cooperation with phenomenon. There is no rich his- your country in this field? tory of contacts between our ancestors and the recent past did not help Narrow most probably, but unus as well. For political relations, the fortunately not close. There is some most significant is the fact that we are cooperation of research institutions, members of the same family of na- a couple of Dutch farmers took an tions united by the same values and initiative to settle and farm in Sloprinciples. vakia, and we definitely buy Dutch Over eight billion euro of direct flowers. The agro sector is a specific investments to the Slovak economy area, which requires sufficient knowland two billion euro of annual trade edge of the country and farming habexchange give an answer about how its of its people before coming in. The it is with the economic ties. Where traditional model of entrepreneurial we have to do more is cultural ex- activities is not applicable there. The changes, cooperation in science and double standards of the EU farming research between academic institu- policy did not help as well. But we are tions and of course tourism. trying to generate the interest on the side of your agro sector e.g. by the re5. Slovakia was highly industri- cently organised seminar of Lugera & alised in the second half of the 20th Makler. century. Is the technical sector nowadays still the driving force of the 7. The transition from communism economy? Apparently the automo- to an independent state was coutive sector plays a very important pled with the splitting of Czechorole. slovakia into Czech Republic and Slovakia. Did this transition pass in You have answered your question a smooth way? yourself. In fact, we belong to the group of countries with so-called real It is too early to provide you with or production economies. But the au- a total account of these really historitomotive industry, despite its 40 per- cal processes in short. The very basis cent share in GDP generation, is not for any observation is the fact there
has been no historical animosity between Czechs and Slovaks. As far as the process of creation of new independent states is concerned, there have been initially some differences in approach to a limited number of issues, but currently we can say the relations between our two countries and their peoples are smooth; lots of people, politicians including, say better than before. 8. Which touristic highlights can you recommend our readers to visit? Did the Dutch already discover your country? Dutch tourists are traditional visitors of Slovakia. They admire the mountainous landscape, plenty of opportunities to hike, for winter sports, experience with real wild nature. Simply said, Slovakia offers â€“ except the sea â€“ all the major tourism attractions. As Slovak wine production this ear was praised for its quality in various international competitions, this can also be advised as a topic worthy of exploration. And if this is not enough, East of Slovakia is the area where East and West cultures meet and display very a colourful picture of their heritage. The best way to decide about a possible trip is to visit the web page of the Slovak Tourist Board www.slovakia.travel. 9. If you can describe your country in one sentence, what would you say? Not even a sentence, a slogan little big country.
JANUARY 2014 | 9
Netherlands sees light at end of tunnel
Photo: Nimish Gogri
For ten months, the inhabitants of the Netherlands were overwhelmed with one negative economic forecast after another, leading to an all-time low of the government’s popularity. But, almost out of the blue, the economy seems to be picking up. JOEP DERKSEN reports. What a difference a year makes. In the first quarter, we were flooded with news about how the money lent to Greece will not be paid back. Other countries too needed a bailout and the Dutch economy was spiraling downhill. Exports declined, consumer spending spiraled and both light and heavy production went down. An overall negative gloom attached itself to citizens, and this was exacerbated by many politicians. The country had just recovered from the shock announcement that a total of 30 billion euro in cutbacks had to be achieved in order – among other reasons – to bail out the Dutch banks who had endangered the Dutch and global economy with their gambling tactics.
At the end of 2012, Prime Minister Mark Rutte (VVD) announced other measures needed to achieve another 16 billion euro in cutbacks. And if it remained with this message alone, things would not have been so bad. But it seemed that the Dutch politicians had come to an agreement to only announce bad news, as if to prepare the country for worse times to come and get more support for the introduction of unpopular measures. Symptomatic of this was a case that happened on the very first beautiful and sunny day. It was a warm spring day in March and everybody seemed to be excited to go out, do some work or just enjoy a day off. Alas, the fun only lasted a short while. Deputy Prime Minister
Lodewijk Asscher (PvdA) announced that more economic hardship was to be expected. As a result of these kind of messages, people stopped spending their money and started saving for worse times. The result was that the economy dipped even further. Nobody was spared, not even the weak and financially challenged. The elderly have had to start paying extra for using health benefits and home renters in the social sector will see their rents increase by up to six percent per year. These were some of the outcomes of an economic crisis that had lasted for five years in a row, leading to rising unemployment, decreasing value of houses, an increase in bankruptcies and a cutting down of pensions.
On top of this, King WillemAlexander announced an extra six billion euro in cutbacks in his first “Troonrede;” the speech of the head of state on every third Tuesday in September. Statistics of the Central Bureau for Statistics (Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek, CBS) show that overall confidence in the economy went down from 0 (neutral) in 2011 to minus 45 in March 2013. After that, the confidence level crept up inch by inch and in November it was as high as minus 16. However, unemployment is still high: four years ago, a little more than 300,000 people were out of a job, but nowadays, the total number of people living on welfare has more than doubled to just about 700,000 citizens who are in between jobs. But starting from October, almost out of the blue, the statistics suddenly started looking more positive. Unemployment went down by 11,000 people to a total of 674,000. This is in sharp contrast to the beginning of this year, when on average 600 people a day lost their jobs. Asscher stated, “There still are too many unemployed. I will do my utmost to fight this.” Also the Dutch economy as a whole started growing again. This growth was just 0.1 percent in the third quarter, but what a difference it made. Suddenly we were out of the recession. Minister of Economic Affairs Henk Kamp (VVD) was pleased with this result. “Investments increase and that gives us hope,” he said. Investments in machines and installations indeed rose, but other investments still declined, not as much as before, however. But since export is picking up and it is just a matter of time before we start purchasing more products, food and gadgets, for the Netherlands 2014 must be the year that can be compared to the Phoenix. The country will hopefully rise from its ashes of economic downturn and will move toward solid economic growth.
China and NL call for e-certification At a recent WTO summit, China and the Netherlands have together called for other countries to provide e-certification for exports.
Photo: World Trade Organisation
On Wednesday 3 December, at the Netherlands’ initiative, the Dutch and Chinese governments called on other countries to improve their provision of online export certification. The two countries, together with UNCTAD, explained how electronic certification works in a workshop in the margins of the WTO summit in
Bali. Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Lilianne Ploumen (PvdA) opened the workshop, together with UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi. “E-certification is faster and less error-prone, and it saves exporters from extra red tape,” said Ms Ploumen.
The Netherlands and UNCTAD are keen to share their knowledge with developing countries, which stand to benefit especially from online export certification. Anyone wanting to export agricultural goods needs a veterinary or phytosanitary certificate. This shows the importing country that the goods
comply with all its regulations for protecting health in humans, animals and plants. The Netherlands is the world’s second largest exporter of agricultural goods. Every year, we export 550,000 consignments, worth €13 billion, to countries outside the EU – and each consignment requires an export certificate. Experience has turned the Dutch into export certification experts. “As well as making life easier for the business community, online certification also benefits public authorities,” said Ms. Ploumen. “It enables inspection procedures to be more focused and efficient. And it cuts the scope for fraud – because the information on the certificate is exchanged directly between public authorities without a paper certificate first passing through many hands.” The Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs has been working since 2010 to promote e-certification for exports. the Netherlands and China are aiming to get information exchange on agricultural imports and exports 100 percent online. The Netherlands is pursuing similar goals with Australia, Chile, Ethiopia, Kenya, New Zealand, South Korea, and the US.
Call for labour equality
THE HAGUE | Minister of Social Affairs Lodewijk Asscher (PvdA) has called on the EU to focus on unfair competition in European labour markets and bad work conditions for Romanian and Bulgarian workers in particular, reports the Shanghai Daily. The move is sparked by changes coming into effect this month, which grant Romanian and Bulgarian nationals unrestricted access to European labour markets. Asscher is concerned about the possibility of a “downward spiral” in wages and working conditions for the new immigrants. Meanwhile, polls show that most Dutch want nationals of the two countries barred from working here.
JSF bids set for govt. aid
KENYA | Former Dutch Minister of Eco-
nomic Affairs Maxime Verhagen (CDA) is to assist Dutch companies in their efforts to win contracts for the production and maintenance of the F-35, known as the Joint Strike Fighter. In a letter to the Dutch House of Representatives, Minister of Economic Affairs Henk Kamp (VVD) reported that Verhagen will serve as special representative of the Dutch defence industry. Verhagen will represent Dutch government and industry in the US, opening doors to the upper management of key US firms.
New Curaçao tax deal
WILLEMSTAD | State Secretary for Finance Frans Weekers (VVD) and Curaçao’s Finance Minister José Jardim have reached an agreement on new bilateral arrangements, aimed at preventing double taxation between the Netherlands and Curaçao, reports LowTax.net. Both Ministers aim to submit a law to the Dutch Council of Ministers in early 2014, and have therefore signed a letter of intent to this effect. The new accord, which replaces the existing agreement between the two countries dating from 1964, is expected to enter into force on January 1, 2015.
Bonuses can be reclaimed
AMSTERDAM | From 1 January 2014, it has been possible to adjust or reclaim excessive bonuses. This applies to bonuses which, in retrospect, were granted based on incorrect information (claw-back) and to bonuses the payment of which cannot be justified under the principles of reasonableness and fairness. This is the result of a bill submitted by Minister of Security and Justice Ivo Opstelten (VVD) and Minister of Finance Jeroen Dijsselbloem (PvdA), which has been approved by the senate. The regulations apply to directors of all public limited companies and of all financial enterprises.
Uneducated hit hard
AMSTERDAM | The rise in unemployment numbers between 2008 and 2012 has had a much more serious effect on lower educated members of the Dutch workforce than those who possess college or university degrees, according to figures recently released by Statistics Netherlands (CBS). Lowly educated people with technical skills in construction work or car industry were most likely to be unemployed, CBS said. Within this group, unemployment increased sharply from 2.2 percent in 2008 to 7.2 percent in 2012.
10 | JANUARY 2014
Greece – new chair of the European Union In this interview, Nanda Jagusiak-Monteiro speaks with the Ambassador of Greece, H.E. Mrs. Teresa Paraskevi Angelatou. this Presidency is the European Parliament elections. The Embassy of Greece will organise meetings between the Ambassadors of the EU Member States and the candidate states and Ministers of the Dutch Government as well as with the Director General of the OPCW.
H.E. Mrs. Teresa Paraskevi Angelatou
1. Greece has the presidency of the European Union from January to June 2014. What subject will be the key priority of the Greek Presidency and what are the other priorities? Are there special events planned for the community in The Hague? Greece assumes the EU Presidency at a moment when Europe is going through a delicate phase. The economic crisis forced the adoption of fiscal constraint policies. The extent and intensity of the crisis, as well as the resulting recession and unemployment undermined the trust of many European citizens in the European Institutions. Thus, all of us now have to
work towards an effective policy for a return to prosperity, economic recovery and high levels of employment. Europe is responding to the challenge of the economic crisis, safeguarding the common currency and promoting direct policies that tackle recession and unemployment by stimulating growth. The Presidency will focus in four important main principles: growth in jobs and cohesion; further integration of the EU – Eurozone; migration, borders and mobility; and finally a horizontal thematic running through all three objectives, the EU Maritime Policy. An additional factor determining
Greece is known for high quality agricultural products, a sector that can be further developed. Moreover, Greece has an increasing number of fast growing companies in the pharmaceutical, technological and energy sectors. Innovation clusters have been created in order to enhance cooperation and develop cutting-edge products and services in these sectors. Our 2. The Netherlands was in favour country has an excellent level of inof a severe financial policy from frastructure and aims to be a business the European Commission towards hub in South-eastern Europe. the Greek government. How are the relations between both countries 4. We all know the importance of now? Have there also efforts been the ancient Greek culture and its made in view of mutual trade de- influence on European cultural hisvelopment? torical heritage. Greece has a lot of archaeological museums. Is it true The Dutch Government has, on that archaeological research and many occasions, recognised the ef- collective practice never cease? forts of the Greek people and the positive results produced by the Greek The presence of around 20 foreign Government. Relations between our archaeological institutes from all over two countries are growing stronger the world replies to your question. by the day. We have launched a pro- Almost every corner of Greece’s soil ductive cooperation with the Embassy is of archaeological interest. Despite of The Netherlands in Greece, which our financial constraints, our policy has recently presented the innova- remains to discover, preserve, safetive programme “Orange Grove,” a guard and present to the public our programme to support young entre- ancient heritage. Among others, the preneurs. Also, The Netherlands is an new Acropolis Museum’s objective, important part of the EU Task Force rated in the five best museums in the that is helping implement reforms in world, is to establish a substantial rethe Greek public administration. lationship between visitors and our ancient cultural heritage, which has 3. In view of the current efforts the remained an inspiration for over 25 Greek government makes to over- centuries. come the crisis, which are the business sectors that can be further de- 5. The Olympic Games are indisveloped? solubly linked with ancient Greece.
Can you tell me something about it? Pindar, the ancient Greek lyric poet wrote “... nor any contest than the Olympian greater to sing.” The Olympic Games, the “sacred truce” combined the deep religious spirit along with the heroic past of the Greeks thus unifying body, mind and soul according to universal and philosophical values. The athletes, although mortal, were immortalised by their victories. The Olympic ideals are very much alive and needed today and this is why their promotion remains a core item of our foreign policy. 6. Are there many tourists coming to your country and among them how many from The Netherlands. Tourism is one of the most important industries in Greece. Every year millions of tourists visit our country and due to its mild climate, Greece offers touristic adventures all year round. This year we surpassed the target of 17 million (satisfied, I hope) tourists. Greece is a popular destination for Dutch tourists and more than half a million visit our country annually. 7. If you can describe your country in one sentence, what would you tell the readers? Success is dependent on effort (Sophocles) and efforts we’ve shown.
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Kazakh delegation visits Leiden Bio Science Park A delegation from the Republic of Kazakhstan, led by the country’s vice-minister of education, has visited the Netherlands to further technical and scientific cooperation.
H.E. Mrs. Mainura Murzamadiyeva (Ambassador) with the delegation Mr. Shigeo Katsu (second from the right), and Mr. Takir Balykbayev (third from the left)
On 6-7 December, a Kazakhstan delegation visited the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The delegation was led by Vice-Minister of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan Mr. Takir Balykbayev and Rector of Nazarbayev University, Mr. Shigeo Katsu. The delegation visited the Netherlands’ leading cluster, Leiden Bio Science Park, which is considered to be one of the five best European Science and Technology Parks in Europe, and the high-tech research center High Tech Campus Eindhoven, which is established on the basis of the “Philips” trust, for the purpose of expanding mutual cooperation and performing a detailed study of experience in creation and operation of Science and Technology Parks. The delegation from the Republic of Kazakhstan also met representatives of some Dutch companies that are actively involved in the work with these parks. Within the frame of the visit, Kazakh delegation together with the West Holland Foreign Investment Agency conducted business forums “Technical science – from theory to practice” at Leiden Bio Science Park and High Tech Campus Eindhoven. Also the delegation held substantive negotiations with management of the park, which has a leading position in the sphere of biomedicine, and as well clusters in high technology in the field of life sciences and biomedicine, on the question of deepening cooperation between Nazarbayev University and Leiden Bio Science Park.
During this visit the delegation was provided with specific examples of successful interaction between science, business, and state support on the basis of: - Business Incubator BioPartner Center Leiden, acting as a launching pad for aspiring entrepreneurs and start-ups in the field of bio-industry, in the development of science and technology parks. - The company to-BBB Technologies, which carries out research and development in biotechnology at the stage of clinical implementation, and the development of new treatments for diseases of the brain and neuroinflammatory diseases through the application of new technologies, as well as carrying out joint research with the top five pharmaceutical companies in the world (Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Roche, GlaxoSmithKline, and Novartis). - The state organisation WestHolland Foreign Investment Agency, which specialises in economic and investment development, as well as the development of international cooperation. As part of the visit and getting acquainted with the scientific and technological park High Tech Campus Eindhoven a meeting took a place with the leading management of the park represented by Managing Director Mr. Frans Schmetz, and Executive Chairman of Philips Mr. G. Hendriks. They presented historical aspects and effective mechanisms of creation of the park, and described its ample
available scientific, technical and laboratory facilities. The delegation also got acquainted with the technical material and scientific basis of the Eindhoven centre on its premises, and visited the complex of laboratories, including a leading centre for the implementation of public and private research and development, the “Centre for Imaging Research and Education.” Further expansion of mutually beneficial cooperation between the parties is of paramount importance, and could be achieved in particular by deepening the cooperation between research centres of the two countries. The parties reached an agreement on the further intensification of cooperation, involvement in Kazakhstan of Netherlands’ advanced experience in the creation of research centres, “green” economy and practical achievements in advanced technologies. Nazarbayev University is an autonomous research university located in Astana, the national capital of Kazakhstan. It is internationally focussed and teaches through English.
Kazakhstan and Netherlands space programme During a recent delgation’s visit, Kazakhstan and the Netherlands discussed plans to actively develop cooperation in the field of space exploration.
From 15 to 19 December 2013 the Kazakhstan delegation, led by the Deputy Chairman of the National Space Agency of the Republic of Kazakhstan Mr. M. Moldabekov, visited the Netherlands. The visit was organised with the assistance of the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and is a realisation of the achieved agreements of the parties, which were reached in
March and September 2013 during the mutual visits of heads of the space agencies of the two countries. The Kazakhstan delegation consisted of representatives of the National space agency of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Special constructiontechnological Bureau of the JSC National company “Kazakhstan Gharysh Sapary” and TOO, the “Space Research Institute” named after academic U.M.Sultangazin.
Active cooperation between Kazakhstan and the Netherlands in the space sector is targeted at implementation of the State program of forced industrial-innovative development of the Republic of Kazakhstan for 20102014, and for the further development of the space industry in the country, as knowledge-based and high-tech sectors of the economy, contributing to accelerated industrial-innovative development of the Republic. During the visit – with the purpose of enlargement of interaction and learning best practices from the Dutch experience in the space sector – the delegation of Kazakhstan held a number of double-sided meetings and visited the most effective scientific and technical facilities in the Netherlands, including European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC), Delft University of Technology, space research organisation Dutch Space, aerospace and technologies company SSVB, as well as a number of high-tech companies in the area of space innovation: ISIS, Cosine, MOOG Bradford and CCM. During the visit, a meeting of Deputy Chairman of the National space agency of the Republic of Kazakhstan Mr. M. Moldabekov with the heads of Dutch Space Office also took a place. The meetings addressed the issues of international development of space activities, activation of KazakhDutch cooperation, mutual training and education of the professionals in the space industry, exchange of experience and knowledge in the field of innovation in various sectors of the economy. The best Dutch capabilities of creating innovative space technologies,
design, assembling, testing and running of various types of satellite systems have been studied this way. As a result of the meetings, the parties agreed on the need for closer cooperation in the development of space programs of both countries. The visit of the delegation of Kazakhstan
National space agency of the Republic of Kazakhstan has allowed experts from the two countries to exchange practical experience and knowledge in the field of innovative space technologies, and gave new energy for activation of Kazakh-Dutch cooperation in the space sector.
Transport talks A Kazakh transport and communications delegation has visited NL. From 16 to 20 December 2013, with the assistance of the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the delegation of the Ministry of Transport and Communications of the Republic of Kazakhstan visited the cities The Hague and Rotterdam. During the visit to Rotterdam the Kazakhstan delegation took part in the meetings during which it examined the governmental management of the structure of Dutch marine transport. On 18 December the Ministry of infrastructure and Environment of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, in The Hague, held the second meeting of the Kazakhstan-Netherlands Working Group of international automobile transport. During the meeting the parties exchanged information and statistical data on foreign trade and economic cooperation between the two coun-
tries, and discussed issues related to cargo transport, passenger transport, changes and innovations in the legal bases of the two countries. The Kazakh delegation provided detailed information to the Dutch party on the current operation of the Customs Union of Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and Belarus. In return, the Dutch party provided information about recent development of EU legislation in the field of transport. The meetings were held in a friendly and constructive atmosphere. The parties came to the conclusion that these kinds of meetings are helpful for the further development of double-sided relations in the field of transport. The delegation of Kazakhstan has invited their Dutch counterparts to visit Astana to hold the next meeting of the Kazakhstan-Netherlands Working Group of international automobile transport.
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14 | JANUARY 2014
Dutch foundation builds schools in Uganda
Photos: Sophia Taha
A foundation started by a Dutchman has been doing excellent work in increasing the education opportunities for Ugandan children. SOPHIA TAHA talks to the founder of Hearts for the Future about the work that is being done. In October I visited the Republic of Uganda, home to 36 million people and its official language is English. I flew from the brisk European weather in the Netherlands and landed to a warm, sticky all-encompassing heat in order to spend the week with Build Africa, a charity whose work takes them to rural places in Kenya and Uganda where they combine education and livelihood projects to give people a better more fulfilling life. The landscape along the road is lush, green and full of people. Each person seems busy; each person has a smile on their face. There are over-laden cyclists and motorcyclists. There are cows and goats and chickens. There are well-built compounds and simple shacks. New four by fours drive next to old dusty cars. We took in the scenery. I noticed that the Ugandan cyclists could teach the Dutch a thing or two; for starters they have cushions on the back of their bikes for passengers. As well as bikes over-crowded with passengers we saw a cyclist carrying an entire mattress, another carrying a huge chair, many carried giant loads of produce on the way to be sold. With an hour left to go before we reached our accommodation, we hit a massive storm; each lightning strike lightening the entire landscape. We strained to see and watch the fog and mist on the road. As we drove we saw people on bikes, motor cycles and foot all seemingly undisturbed by the lack of street lighting and the torrential rain. Uganda is a beautiful country with some very real poverty. The week was spent travelling around with the charity Build Africa looking at the work they have done and seeing the progress of different schools in different areas. I saw some incredible and inspiring things. Classrooms so full of children eager to learn that their teaching ratio was 1: 100; temporary structures that at first the group thought were to house animals which were used as
classrooms and huge smiles from all the children we met. Each school had perfectly behaved children. Each school had a parentteacher body that was proud of what they had achieved so far and eager to move their schools forward. Each school taught me something and left a lasting impression. However the school that affected me the most was on our last day. Tot ziens An hour and half along a bumpy road led us to a clearing with large trees surrounding it. First two small mud buildings came into sight. Then we saw a huddle of adults beneath the largest tree’s shade, sitting around a table. There were cattle and goats grazing close by and we could hear and see some building work happening. What I couldn’t see at first was the usual crowd of children, which, at every school we had visited, would come tumbling out to see the visitors. Then, we realised, each of the trees surrounding the clearing had a group of children beneath it, learning. As Headmaster John led us around the school; from one group of trees to the next, we met the children. Most of the “classrooms” didn’t have seats. They sat on the ground in the shade of the trees and had their lessons. This last school we visited was one that the charity had only recently started working with and as well as the large amount of work needed, the main thing that surprised me is that all the children said goodbye in Dutch! Perplexed, I asked the head-teacher why the children said goodbye to us in Dutch and he told us that the only other visitors they had had were from the Netherlands. In fact the children had a fierce debate amongst themselves because they were confused when the group of us spoke English to them. This awoke my curiosity and so
JANUARY 2014 | 15
Once a school is established, then the school can apply for funding to be taken over by the government. So the mission seemed clear: build a school. On his first visit to the school, two children came to say what they felt the community needed. The boy asked for a football. The next day Peter brought a football back and the child said that now he really believed something was going to change here. Hearts for the Future has run many fundraising projects with many schools within the Netherlands, including one school whose children sold cookies at their local Albert Heijn. One school boy raised 150 euro alone. Peter says his foundation chose to work with Build Africa because you can see where the money goes; he felt that many organisations don’t spend the money on the actual goal. In this case he has made visits to the community and can see the school’s progress. His fundraising has come from all over the world – from places as far apart as Denmark and South Africa – through friends and contacts that he has. In order to complete the entire school project, Peter says a total of 110,000 euro would be needed. This would be enough to create accomI tracked down the man who’s visits had meant that children in a remote place in Uganda (hours along a dusty bumpy road) now knew how to say good bye in Dutch. I met Peter de Gelder in a small pizza restaurant just off of Dam Square. A friendly and humble guy, he is easy to talk to and keen to discuss the school. He first was involved with the education situation in Uganda through a friend. He learned of the low percentage of children able to attend school because parents cannot afford to regularly send their children. He decided to concentrate on one community first and hopes that eventually more communities can be helped. Initially beginning with fundraising in his church, and he then set up a foundation called Hearts for the Future to increase the amounts that could be raised. Now he and his family help fundraise for the school project. The community created their own
modation for the teachers, two school buildings of classrooms, toilets and further training for the teachers. At the moment, building work is taking place on the first school classroom building. Peter’s foundation’s next plan is to raise enough money for the second school building to be built. Build Africa’s overall mission is to improve the lives of communities and children through supporting projects that increase access to education and increases livelihoods. They run initiatives with schools to support access to clean water, food and the very successful village savings and loans association. This is a micro-finance scheme in which the community saves together and lends money as a community to members when they have an idea for increasing their income but do not have the funds to do so. Build Africa has also trained communities and schools in better farming practises. One member of a community told us how before Build Africa’s training his land would only yield three sacks of maize, after training on optimum seed planting distances the same land yielded 21 sacks of maize. Seeing the very real impact of the work that Build Africa did was incredible and moving.
school, under some large trees on some land donated by one of the parents. It is from this stage that Build Africa, Hearts for the Future and Peter began their work. Getting to work The first obstacle to this mission was the status of the roads. There were none. It was a marshy, swampy, rural place. With the help of Build Africa, the local government was persuaded to build a road. This road has not only meant that the school is accessible for building materials and school-goers but it has also helped the local community sell more of its produce. Now larger towns can be reached and produce can be sold before it goes off. There are government-based schools, however, with no actual school buildings within. It was clear to the community that there was no way that the government would be able to fund things.
New family-friendly caesarean section at Bronovo Hospital
Staying together after the birth Photo: Frank van der Burg
can view her own caesarean section, should she wish to.'
Every new mother wants to be with her baby and partner immediately after giving birth. That is now possible at Bronovo Hospital in The Hague for women who have a child via a scheduled caesarean section. It was lovely to immediately be able to hold my baby and to enjoy the childbirth process more. I look back on it as a wonderful event. It was nice to see that a caesarean section can be a different experience. These are just two of the enthusiastic responses recently received by gynaecologist Kim Boers in cards from the mother or father of a baby born at Bronovo via a scheduled caesarean section. What is going on?
No decrease in temperature The family-friendly caesarean section is possible thanks to maintaining a higher temperature in the operating room. Boers: 'Previously we took the baby quickly away from the operating room because we were afraid of the child cooling down.' In the experiences of Boers and her team, breastfeeding is initiated earlier if the child is allowed to stay with the mother immediately after the birth. The baby may also take to the breast better. Women can only have a family-friendly caesarean section in a small number of Dutch hospitals. Bronovo has recently joined their ranks. 'Our policy, however, remains that there must be a good reason to switch to a caesarean section', says Kim Boers. 'Like a transverse presentation, for example, because a caesarean section remains a major operation.'
'Enjoy childbirth more' Viewing together Boers: 'Previously, if a paediatrician judged the child to be in good condition after birth by scheduled caesarean section, it could remain for five minutes with the mother on her chest. The baby was then placed in an incubator and brought to the Amalia nursing ward. The partner also left the opera-ting room, after which the woman's incision was sewn up and she was moved to the recovery room. It could take an hour and a half before the family was reunited. Since 1 October, if the baby is in good condition after a scheduled caesarean section, the baby and the partner can stay with the mother in the operating room and the recovery room. Another benefit for the woman is that she
Global breastfeeding certificate Bronovo provides high quality breastfeeding support for the mother and child. On the basis of that assessment, the national foundation Zorg voor Borstvoeding recently awarded Bronovo Hospital the global breastfeeding certificate. Bronovo had already received the certificate in 2010, but a new assessment was necessary after three years. The certificate is awarded by the WHO (World Health Organization) and UNICEF, the child rights organisation. According to the certificate guidelines, mothers need to be informed and counselled in a professional manner, also when circumstances require that they be separated from their baby.
Information for expats Information meetings expats Do you want to know more about information meetings for expats? Contact: Nanda Jagusiak-Monteiro Expat Coordinator Bronovo E: NJagusiak@bronovo.nl
Overseas Patients Administration Do you have any questions about the Dutch healthcare system, Bronovo Hospital, your insurance or the handling of your invoice? Contact: Deborah Warmenhoven-Walmsley Overseas Patients Administration Assistant Patient Administration Office T: 00-31-70-3124180 or 070-3124180 (Monday, Wednesday & Friday) E: DWarmenhoven@bronovo.nl Accident & Emergency department Emergency services are available seven days a week and 24 hours a day at Bronovo Hospital. The Accident & Emergency department is always open for everyone. The A&E department (SEH) is available on 070-3124445 or via the central Bronovo number 070-3124141. Every A&E patient must produce proof of identity and a health insurance card. Contact Bronovo Hospital Bronovolaan 5 2597 AX The Hague +31-70-3124141 or 070-3124141 www.bronovo.nl
Together we care
BRONOVO HOSPITALITY Bronovo offers general hospital services for the residents of The Hague and surrounding areas. Providing personal care is a priority, because at Bronovo our patients are at the heart of everything we do. The hospital has an alliance with the Leiden University Medical Centre. Our team of medical specialists offer a wide range of services, covering almost every specialisation. At Bronovo, over 1,500 employees and 120 specialists work closely together in a multidisciplinary team to provide what we like to think of as health care with added hospitality. That’s why our motto is: ‘Together we care’.
www.bronovo.nl BRONOVO HOSPITAL Bronovolaan 5, 2597 AX Den Haag
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WASSENAAR HEALTH CENTRE Rijksstraatweg 324, 2242 AB Wassenaar
BRONOVO SATELLITE OUTPATIENT CLINIC President Kennedylaan 15, 2517 JK Den Haag
EXPAT SERVICE DESK On workdays from 8.00 – 16.30 hours: E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Anneke van Kooten +31 (0)70 312 40 16
04-12-13 11:38 31-12-13 14:42
JANUARY 2014 | 17
Dutch teams set to crack secrets of the universe
Two new projects on hand for the European Space Agency offer a great opportunity for the Netherlands Institute for Space Research to pry open the universe and see how it works. DECLAN AYLWARD reports on the projects. Late last year, the European Space Agency (ESA) selected the research themes for its next two large space missions. The choice for “the hot, energetic universe” (L2) and “gravitational waves” (L3) is good news for Dutch space research. The Netherlands has excellent credentials to
make important scientific and technological contributions to these missions. For the next stage, ESA has asked the participating countries to submit proposals for missions that cover the two research themes selected. For “the hot, energetic universe,” the
deadline was just before the start of this month; for “gravitational waves” the deadline is later. The Netherlands is involved in two candidate missions: Athena (L2) and eLISA (L3). The “hot and energetic universe” mission will address two key questions: how and why does ordinary
matter assemble into the galaxies and galactic clusters that we see today, and how do black holes grow and influence their surroundings? Black holes, which lurk unseen at the centres of almost all galaxies, are regarded as one of the keys to understanding galaxy formation and evolution. Astronomers can study this phenomenon with Athena, an extremely powerful X-ray space telescope, with a planned launch date in 2028. “For more than fifteen years SRON has been working on the development of ultra sensitive sensors and read-out electronics that make such a telescope feasible,” says Jan-Willem den Herder of the Netherlands Institute for Space Research (Stichting Ruimteonderzoek Nederland, SRON), leader of the project that has to lead to a major Dutch contribution. “Therefore the Netherlands now has good credentials to contribute to the mission.” SRON is the Netherlands expertise institute for scientific space research. The institute develops and uses innovative technology for groundbreaking research from space with a focus on astrophysics research, research into the earth’s atmosphere and exoplanetary research. In addition SRON has a research line into ultrasensitive sensors for X-ray and infrared radiation. The scientific instruments for Athena will be developed and constructed by an international consortium, with an important role for SRON and Dutch astronomers.
eLISA (evolved Laser Interferometer Space Antenna) is the most likely candidate for research into gravitational waves, and it is expected to be launched six years after Athena. The mission will measure the gravitational waves predicted by Einstein from compact binary stars in the Milky Way, from objects swallowed up by black holes and from merging supermassive black holes. “With these revolutionary measurements we can eventually study the formation and evolution of binary stars, the dynamics of stars around black holes and the formation of structures in the universe,” says Gijs Nelemans, from Radboud University Nijmegen/Nikhef and leader of the Dutch eLISA consortium. “The measurements will also throw new light on fundamental physics questions, for example the extent to which Einstein’s theory of relativity applies under extreme conditions. And we might even discover entirely new physics, such as that which must have prevailed shortly after the big bang.” Before that can happen, extremely advanced technology must be developed for eLISA. Radboud University Nijmegen, University of Amsterdam, Leiden University, University of Groningen, VU University Amsterdam and SRON have consolidated their scientific strengths. Nikhef, TNO, NOVA and SRON are doing the same for the technology development for eLISA. In 2015 the LISA Pathfinder mission will first of all be launched.
Advanced Research Centre for NanoLithography
Image: Wikimedia Commons
The Advanced Research Centre for NanoLithography has begun operating in the Netherlands from this month, headed by Leiden University professor Joost Frenken. DECLAN AYLWARD looks at the details. The Advanced Research Centre for NanoLithography (ARCNL), which is a new partnership between ASML, FOM, NWO, the University of Amsterdam and VU University Amsterdam, has commenced work since 1 January 2014. ARCNL is a new, public-private funded research centre founded on the initiative of ASML. Prof. Joost Frenken has been appointed as the first director of the ARCNL. The new research centre conducts fundamental research relating to nanolithography, the most important technology for manufacturing com-
puter chips and processors in PCs, smartphones and tablets. Nanolithography is the branch of nanotechnology concerned with the study and application of fabricating nanometer-scale structures, meaning patterns with at least one lateral dimension between the size of an individual atom and approximately 100 nm. Initially, the centre will focus on the physical and chemical processes that are crucial for Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) lithography. ARCNL will strengthen the knowledge base of nanolithography and
thereby make an important contribution to this technology, which will in the coming years be indispensable for innovation in the global semiconductor industry. “This is a great example of a partnership between industry and academia,” says a delighted Bart Noordam, vice-president of ASML Research. “We want to stimulate fundamental research that will contribute to the development of new technologies for the semiconductor industry. We are convinced that this stands the best chance of success in an academic environment where ideas can
be freely exchanged and researchers can pursue long-term, independent research.” Over the next two years, ARCNL will become an independent research centre at the Amsterdam Science Park, staffed by about one hundred scientists and technologists. The partners of ARCNL jointly guarantee an investment of approximately 95 million euro in the coming decade. The city of Amsterdam will supplement this to 100 million euro. Private and public parties will each contribute 50 percent to the basic funding.
ARCNL falls under the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM). An “Advanced Research Centre” is a new type of consortium, with which the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) promotes partnership with universities and private parties. This initiative complements the government’s top sector policy, with the Top Sector High Tech Systems and Materials (HTSM). ARCNL director Joost Frenken will be mapping out the scientific course, with his first priority being the recruitment of top scientists to work at the centre. Lauded as a great choice for the job, Frenken is a professor at Leiden University, where he heads a research group in the field of the physics of surfaces and interfaces. His Ph.D. project was carried out at the FOM-Institute for Atomic and Molecular Physics (AMOLF) in Amsterdam. From 1986 to 1988, Frenken worked as an Alexander-von-Humboldt Fellow at the Max-Planck-Institut für Strömungsforschung in Göttingen (Germany). He is a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and was recently awarded a prestigious ERC Advanced Grant. Frenken won the 2012 FOM Valorisation Prize for his ability to combine fundamental research, technological development and the start-up of new companies. Central to the research of Joost Frenken is the fundamental understanding of the dynamic aspects of surfaces and interfaces and their role in relevant, natural or industrial processes under practical conditions. Topics of interest include surface diffusion, crystal growth, surface phase transitions, catalysis, and friction. For tailor-made measurements in each of these areas, Frenken’s research group has developed a variety of special-purpose scanning probe microscopes as well as dedicated instrumentation for surface x-ray diffraction
Investing in your future. This project is partly financed by the European Regional Development Fund of the European Union.
ARTS & CULTURE
JANUARY 2014 | 19
FashionWeek Amsterdam’s 10 year anniversary
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The highlight of the Netherlands’ fashion calendar, FashionWeek Amsterdam celebrates 10 years this January. DECLAN AYLWARD takes a look at what is on the cards for the event. From Friday 17 to Monday 27 January, 2014 the 20th edition of the Mercedes-Benz FashionWeek Amsterdam will take place, marking the event’s 10 anniversary. With Catwalk, Downtown, Fashion LAB and Business as the four main programmes, the half-yearly fashion event provides the stage on which young, creative and emerging Dutch designers and brands present themselves to the international fashion world and the general public. For the duration of the 10th anniversary of the fashion week, Amsterdam will be the place for fashion lovers. “With Mercedes-Benz as the new title sponsor, FashionWeek Amsterdam will continue to develop as the stage for Dutch fashion talent and as a platform for the entire Dutch fashion industry.” Claims Rob Zomer, director of Fashion Week Netherlands, the organisation that arranges the event. “Within the international calendar of fashion weeks, Amsterdam’s
own outspoken character will be noticed. What can be seen here both on the catwalks and in the city, and in which fashion lovers play their part, cannot be seen in any other fashion capital.” The catwalk programme will take place from Thursday 23 to Monday 27 January. Over five days as many as thirty fashion shows will be organised around the Westergasfabriek, in which talented beginning and established fashion designers take turns to present their autumn / winter 2014 collections. Newcomers for this anniversary edition include the Dutch brand Mattijs Bergen, Aziz Bekkaoui and Atelier MariaLux, Italian designer Lucia Russo and New York’s Beth Pilger. “Once again we have succeeded in drawing up a catwalk programme comprising a large number of creative and confident labels that fit well with the outspoken character of MercedesBenz Fashion WeekAmsterdam,” says
Photo: Yelp Inc
Photo: Sebastiaan ter Burg
programme director Carlo Wijnands. “Together they show a cross section of Dutch fashion, our identity and our society. That is why there is increasing enthusiasm amongst commercial parties to connect with fashion. This is important not only for Dutch fashion designers, but also for the fashion industry as a whole.” All the catwalk shows in the 20th edition of the fashion week can be followed live via the FashionWeek Nederland App (available from January 2014) and via www.fashionweek. nl. Whilst admission to the shows was previously by invitation only and exclusively for fashion industry professionals, the organisation also proposes admission tickets be made available for sale to individuals who have registered as participants in The Frontrow Club. This is in response to a long-cherished wish of fashion lovers. To mark the tenth anniversary, Mercedes-Benz FashionWeek Amsterdam is organising 10 public events at 10 cultural venues over a period of 10 days (18 to 27 January). All these
activities are open to the public, allowing a diverse audience to become acquainted with the versatility of the Dutch fashion. The organisation thus promotes the fashion experience for anyone who loves fashion and it makes the Dutch design talents known to a large group of fashion lovers. Every day an event will be in the spotlight that shows fashion in relation to another creative discipline such as film, music, crafts, theatre or art. All events are arrangedtogether with leading organisations in Amsterdam. For example, there are ‘Fashion Talks’ in the Stedelijk Museum in which a fashion designer connects fashion and art, or there is a meeting about professional blogging and fashion journalism, organised by Fashion Chick in the NRC Café. Fashion LAB is Mercedes-Benz FashionWeek Amsterdam’s breeding ground, through which the organisation wants to develop the fashion industry further and hopes to improve the climate for innovation in the Netherlands. In Fashion LAB, young designers
receive training in commercial skills and know-how in order to build a successful fashion brand. At the upcoming edition some great talents, including Jef Montes and David Laport, will get the chance to use the professional stage at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week to show their collection to the international fashion world. Participation in Fashion LAB challenges them to shine as a designer and to be outstanding as an entrepreneur. On Monday, 27 January MercedesBenz FashionWeek Amsterdam is organising “Keys to Success,” a permanent part of the ongoing Business Programme. During previous editions of this day, topics such as entrepreneurship, the fashion chain and denim were in the spotlights. The focus for the 10-year anniversary edition is on sustainability and the development of new business models. The Business Programme works closely with Modefabriek and Enterprise Europe Network, and includes the organisation of a joint press programme and a “business to match” meeting to encourage European cooperation in the fashion industry.
Escher in Het Paleis
Escher in Het Paleis is a permanent exhibition dedicated to the world-famous artist M.C. Escher, whose art startled millions of people all over the world. The collection is housed in the former Winter Palace of Queen Mother Emma of the Netherlands. It is the only public building in The Hague where the original royal ambience of a palace has been maintained. Highlight of the visit and crown on the exhibition is the 7 meters long Metamorphosis III. This enormous woodcut and the non-conventional way of displaying it letâ€™s the visitor actually experience Escher combining time and space as an organic unity.
Escher in Het Paleis Lange Voorhout 74 2514 EH Den Haag 070 427 7730 www.escherinhetpaleis.nl
JANUARY 2014 | 21
FOOD: BORSCHT AND THE UNIVERSE
Flesh and Spirit
All is Lost
Photo: Jack Newton We’re all ex-vegetarians now. Take, for example, my oldest friend, Chris. We knew each other in high school and together we discovered girls and jazz and and girls and soccer and girls and guitars and girls and marijuana and girls and winter camping and poetry and girls. Chris passes through Europe every year on his way to Davos and he’s always himself, always changing. Three years ago in Paris, he wouldn’t go near the chicken at a Moroccan restaurant in the 17th arrondissement. But last year in Amsterdam he could hardly tear himself away from the carnivorous offerings at Frank’s Smokehouse on the Wittenburgersgracht. This year I plan on introducing him to the divine smoked bacon at the Polish shop around the corner from us on the van Woustraat. But we ought to know better. Every day brings more bad news about meat, from how the animals
live to the manner of the death, from the way their flesh is processed to how our bodies process it. Most meat from the supermarket is artificially colored and flavored, and almost any kind of processed meat you buy in Europe, and any kind of processed foods that contain meat contain not only the most dubious parts of the animal, but animals that you didn’t know were in the mix. How about this one: in Europe, every time meat gets repackaged, the “Consume Before” clock goes back to zero. We learned together, up to no good in Chris’s father’s house on Point Lookout, that the knowledge is worthless without the feeling, which is to say the flavor. In that spirit, here is a recipe for one of the greatest carnivorous experiences there is. Buy a brisket from a reputable butcher. A pound per person is about right. The Dutch way is to simmer it for half a day in a cast iron pot with olive oil, onions, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, sugar, vinegar, salt, pepper, and wine or beer. But the Joy of Cooking is never wrong, the way the Old Testament is never wrong. Put the meat fat side up on a large piece of tin foil, and sprinkle a package of onion soup mix over the top. Close it up tight and cook for three hours at 190 degrees. Or forget the onion soup mix and smother that baby with onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and perhaps a bit of cumin. When it’s done, let it rest, so the juices have a chance to settle, and cut into thick slices – against the grain, of course. (IL PACIFICO)
that the audience is left wondering and curious about what the man will do next. It would have been easy to include voice over or a device that allows Redford’s character to speak, explain his motivations and vocalise his fears, but by making the film virtually silent, Chandor draws us further into our man’s struggle. That said, it is this silence and lack of speech that also works against the film; there are moments that feel as though they are stretched thin, and the repetition of events feels particularly cruel. A little dialogue may have been nice for the sake of getting to know this man better, but the motivation not to include chatter is understandable. Redford is on fine form; the lack of dialogue and interaction means that the entire film, audience empathy and interest lie with the actor, and he utterly commands the screen. Redford is understated yet strong as he battles both nature and machine in a bid to save himself. All is Lost is a challenging, frustrating and engaging examination of hope and survival. Redford is commanding and Chandor’s film is both cruel and uplifting. There are times when the film feels thin, and our man’s actions can be a little frustrating but the strength of the film is that our empathy always lies with him. (BROGEN HAYES)
When a shipping container hits his small boat, a man (Robert Redford) finds himself pitted against the elements, the sea and fat as he battles to survive, alone at sea. J.C. Chandor’s first film – Margin Call – boasted a huge all star cast, now the director turns his attention from the ensemble to the individual with All is Lost. The move from telling a story with a wide and varied cast to a film that centres on one man, and has very little spoken word, is a challenge that Chandor rises to. This year, we have seen Captain Phillips survive an ordeal of other people’s making, but in the film that Chandor has created, the events that set our man’s vessel adrift are sheer chance, with www.hayesatthemovies.com no one truly to blame. Chandor allows Redford to command the screen and, although some of his ac- Director: J.C. Chandor tions may be frustrating, the lack of speech means Starring: Robert Redford
Secret singer songwriter society
Photo: TschiAe For most people, the Netherlands is a land of electronic music. Techno and house are ingrained into the landscape here. Names like Tiësto ring louder here than in many of the countries we expats may have come from. But you don’t have to be a DJ or a big name to find support for your talent in this country. Not since the inauguration of the Secret Singer Songwiter Society, at least. The Secret Singer-Songwriter Society (S4) is a a Dutch non-profit foundation, based in The Hague and established in 2013 by American singer-songwriter Richard Morris, whose twofold mission is to foster the work of singer-songwriters by promoting their songs while, in turn, raising awareness and money for a variety of humanitarian causes around the world through the distribution of recorded music and related merchandise and the organisation and promotion of live events. S4 envisions a platform for singer-songwriters
allowing artists from all walks of life to take their music to far-reaching audiences while partnering with causes they select from a varied and alwaysexpanding portfolio of humanitarian projects. This mix of music and philanthropy seems at odds with the often greedy image of the mainstream music industry, out to provide for their millionaire musicians at the expense of artistic expression. In a climate of over-saturation and donor fatigue, S4 promotes a culture of modest giving while at the same time giving something back to donors in the form of music that can be listened to and appreciated long after their donations have been put to good use. This is what they call “Music That Matters.” One of the organisation’s initiatives, The Hague International Singer-Songwriter Awards (THISSAwards) is held each January and aims to recognize achievement in songwriting and performance in a peer-juried competition. In addition to 16 general and two special categories, there is a Critic’s Circle Artist of the Year Award and a Fans’ Choice Song of the Year Award. Finally, all eligible singer-songwriters who present their original work to the Nominating Committee will automatically be considered for nomination for the annual Dan Fogelberg Memorial Award for Achievement in Songwriting. So this month, take some time away from the decks and spend a little – time and money – on a good cause supported by good music. (DECLAN AYLWARD)
You heard it here first: In 2014 we’ll all be talking about non-human rights, and the ethics of pretending we can be the masters of beings with self-awareness, moral sense, and a concept of the future. It’s certainly not a new idea, at least not for the poets. As Walt Whitman put it in Leaves of Grass: “I think I could turn and live with the animals, they are so placid and self-contained.” Things are a bit more complicated for I.G. Karfield, the nom de plume of Ike Krijnen, an Amsterdam born-and-bred poet and television producer whose most recent collection, 34 witty and surprising short poems in free verse, are set in a post-World War III largely absent of humans but filled with anthropomorphised creatures. “Welcome to the world,” Karfield writes in the opening
poem, “where nothing is like it seems.” (green) CREATURES is in fact a post-modern version of the bestiary, one of the most ancient and even venerable of literary forms, a descriptive compendium – usually with images – of animals, imaginary or real, that represents both the beauty and variety of natural history, as well as the moral instruction that humans have always apparently been in need of from the supposedly lower life forms. The genre peaked in the Middle Ages, especially in England and France, in the form of illuminated manuscripts, and visual artists from Leonardo to Toulouse-Lautrec experimented with bestiaries. In the past century, writers have also claimed the bestiary: Lewis Carroll, Guillaume Apollinaire, Marianne Moore, T.S. Eliot, James Thurber, Jorge Luis Borges, and Julio Cortazar all turned their imaginations toward this literary form, which is at once playful and serious. Karfield’s version raises the stakes. In these poems, the always-strange proximity of animal wildness and natural savagery – it is an intimacy, really, like a terrorist under the bed, a monster in the closet – is an opportunity to explore where homo sapien might belong in the ultimate bestiary. (JONATHAN GILL)
Author: IG Karfield Publisher: Lulu Press Available at the English Bookshop www.englishbookshop.nl
Senza Nome, Maastricht Senza Nome (which translates as “Nameless”) is located on the Hoogbrugstraat in the fashionable area of Wyck, and is a stone’s throw away from the river Maas that snakes its way through the city centre of Maastricht. Upon entry to Senza Nome, you are greeted with a word of welcome at the door and first impressions are very good indeed. There is an open “cucina” at the back of the restaurant that is nice to see and the décor boasts low (and somewhat funky) lighting and exposed brick walls with cool Italian music in the background and a crisp and clean vibe. Senza Nome draws a sophisticated crowd and the atmosphere is intimate without being overbearing – you really do feel relaxed and at ease (there is no “stiffness” at all). I would recommend a glass of the Spumante (house aperitif) to begin your evening. The menu offers all of the traditional Italian recipes that you would expect [want] to see in a Trattoria and these classic dishes are served with a modern twist.
The Risotto with hare and plums as a starter is particularly delicious. There is an excellent selection of wines available but even so, do not let that dissuade you from considering the house wines – the red was really one of the nicest I have ever had. The staff is friendly, enthusiastic and super attentive and the service is fast and smooth. Restaurateur and Master Chef Mr. Huub Biro [who also runs the hugely popular Gelateria “Luna Rossa” in Maastricht] told me that the concept of Senza Nome is simple: Great food expertly prepared with the freshest of ingredients and served in a convivial setting for a reasonable price. It is highly recommended to make a reservation – when we were there, people were turned away as the restaurant was fully booked. Be sure to put Senza Nome on your list of restaurants to try in the New Year. And book soon because the secret is out… (TRACEY TAYLOR)
Hoogbrugstraat 66-68, 6221 CS Maastricht 043 326 4152 email@example.com www.senzanome.nl Open Tuesday – Sunday (inclusive) from 17:00-22:30.
JANUARY 2014 | 23
Russian Winter Olympics on the way
Van der Garde marries
ZWOLLE | Racing driver Giedo van der Garde celebrated the time before Christmas by getting married to longtime girlfriend Denise Boekhoorn in Zwolle, reports F1 Today. Denise is the daughter of Dutch businessman Marcel Boekhoorn, who financially backs 28-year-old Van der Garde’s career. Among the wedding guests were former F1 drivers Jos Verstappen and Christijan Albers, and members of the Caterham team, even though van der Garde has also been strongly linked with a potential move to Sauber for 2014. The Dutch drivers future in the coming season has yet to be decided for sure, however.
Korea looks for Dutchman
SEOUL | Korea is looking for a Dutch coach to support the national team and provide more insider knowledge of various European opponents ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, according to a report by the country’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper. The Korea Football Association is reportedly trying to hire Dutchman Ton Du Chatinier, who worked as an assistant manager under Guus Hiddink from 2012-13 at Russian club FC Anzhi Makhachkala. Hiddink famously led Korea to the semifinals of the 2002 World Cup it co-hosted with Japan.
Photo: Hans Splinter
The first major sporting event of 2014 looks to be the Winder Olympics in Russia. ALEXANDER RIEMER discusses the situation in the country as well as the Dutch medal hopes. While temperatures will probably still be low, the sun will certainly start to shine longer again after the turn of the year. It is almost equally certain that sports fans will not have to wait long to witness the first major sports event of 2014. Football fans might have to be patient a bit longer till the World Cup opens in Brazil in June. Winter sport fans, however, only have to wait a short while until 7 February, when the XXII Olympics Winter Games open. The games in Sochi, Russia are not only highly anticipated for their sport events but also offer many storylines beside the official competitions. The Russian anti-gay laws that were passed in 2013 will likely again generate major controversy as athletes, staff, officials and tourists from around the world are pouring into
Photo: Evgeniy Isaev.jpg
Sochi to attend the games. These laws officially ban the “promotion of homosexuality to minors” and effectively outlaw public demonstrations or speeches in favour of gay rights or even stating that gay relationships are equal to heterosexual relationships. Some Western celebrities and activists had indeed even called for a boycott of the Games in Russia, unless the Winter Olympics are relocated out of Russia. Several European politicians, among them French president François Hollande, had recently signalled that they would not travel to Russia to pay a visit to the Winter Games to indirectly express their disagreement with the human rights situation in the country. Even with all the political controversy around the Winter Games, the actual sports competitions will take
the centre stage after the opening ceremony. The athletes representing the Netherlands hope to improve upon their results from the last Winter Games four years ago. At the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, the Dutch team managed to bring home a total of eight medals, half of them gold. The medal haul of the Dutch team was good enough for the 10th spot in the medal count in 2010. The biggest medal hopes are again attached to Sven Kramer, the worldclass speed skater and most famous Dutch athlete in Sochi. Kramer, the Heerenveen native, was the winner of one of the Dutch gold medals from Vancouver and also added a bronze medal from a team competition to his ever-increasing award collection. Despite the two medals, Kramer’s last Winter Games are probably even
more remembered for two unfortunate events. First, Kramer reacted in an irritated fashion to the questions of an American journalist and flat-out asked her whether she was stupid. Some days later a miscommunication between Kramer and his coach resulted in an illegal lane change for Kramer and his subsequent disqualification from the contest, from which he could have very well have won another gold medal. Kramer therefore has even more motivation to increase his Olympic medal collections, which also includes a silver and bronze medal from the 2006 Winter Games in Turin. While nothing to sneeze at, Kramer’s Olympic medal haul is relatively meagre compared to his success on the World Cup circuit, where he is a six-time world all-round champion. Realistically, Kramer can hope to emulate his countryman Ard Schenk, who gained three individual gold medals at the 1972 Winter Games in Sapporo. Besides Sven Kramer, the Dutch team boasts a deep pool of talented speed skaters, who hope to repeat their success from four years ago. Mark Tuitert and Ireen Wüst lead the rest of this squad as both try to repeat their gold medal performances from Vancouver. An outlier among the Dutch team, Nicolien Sauerbreij notched a notable first during the last Winter Games: she was the first Dutch medallist in a non-skating competition. In fact, the snowboarder even won the gold medal in the parallel giant slalom during the 2010 Games. Returning for another Olympics, Sauerbreij hopes to add another medal in Sochi. Presiding over the Games for the first time will be Thomas Bach, the newly elected chairman of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Bach will have to walk a fine line to ensure smooth Games, as the competitions could potentially be overshadowed by the tense political situation around the host nation, Russia. The IOC will also continue its struggle to have clean, doping-free Games. After a short break, the Winter Games will be followed by the XI Paralympic Winter Games, which also will take place in Sochi and start on 7 March.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
KNVB wants Euro 2020
ZEIST | The KNVB has decided to of-
ficially propose the organisation of four games to be held in the Netherlands as part of the European Championship of 2020. Amsterdam is to be presented as a potential host city. The goal is to secure three group matches and one quarter final for the city. A meeting in Zeist in December granted permission to put in the bid, which should be entered no later than 25 April 2014. Although unconfirmed, it is most likely that the Amsterdam ArenA will be the venue for any matches secured.
Dekker docu on the way
AMSTERDAM | A new documentary, Maidentrip, is bringing the inspirational story of young Dutch circumnavigator Laura Dekker to the big screen, reports sailing website Float.ie. The film was reportedly made by a team of female filmmakers who followed the Dekker for two years as part of production. Dekker was only 14 years old in 2010 when she set off to circumnavigate the globe on her own, with no support team. The journey was completed two years later, when the young sailor was 16. The upcoming movie documents the coming of age of Dekker on this remarkable journey and her struggles to achieve her dream.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Hiddink to return to NL
AMSTERDAM | Guus Hiddink is the favourite to become the next Netherlands national team coach, according to Britain’s Telegraph newspaper. Louis van Gaal is to quit after next year’s World Cup and Hiddink looks set to sign a contract in January as his replacement once the tournament in Brazil is concluded. “I am neither confirming nor denying anything,” said Bert van Oostveen of the KNVB in an interview with NOS television. “That is something we never do when it comes to questions like this.”