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Netherlands to close nine embassies including in Eritrea

Tigrai Online
April. 08 2011

Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal plans to close nine Dutch embassies as part of an effort to modernise embassy services and re-focus the priorities for Dutch foreign policy. Dutch economic interests will now take centre stage abroad, while development aid is being reduced.

Embassies will be closed in four African countries (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Eritrea and Zambia) and five in South and Central America (Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Uruguay). Three of these countries will no longer receive direct development aid from the Dutch government, and therefore no longer need a Dutch embassy. In the other countries, the cost of maintaining an embassy is seen as too high compared to Dutch interests there.

Dutch interests In addition to the closures, the foreign ministry will open two new diplmatic missions in countries where Dutch economic interest is growing – one in Panama City, and one in the Chinese city of Chengdu. In Tanzania, an embassy will be downgraded to an economic mission.

The two main organisations representing business interests in the Netherlands have both welcomed the closures. They say businesses are making increasing use of Dutch embassy services, and they look forward to the more “flexible and effective” Dutch representation abroad.

Bernard Wientjes is the chairman of Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers (VNO-NCW).

“In terms of the budget cuts, particularly cutting the embassies which are less important to Dutch interests, and reducing the non-economic departments in other embassies, we whole-heartedly approve.”