KABUL - The Dutch police training mission in the Afghan province of Kunduz is primarily a military mission. Dutch Defense Minister Hans Hillen made this statement in an interview with this week's issue of current affairs magazine Vrij Nederland. So far, The Hague has emphatically characterized the mission as being civilian in nature.
The opposition Green Left party wants Prime Minister Mark Rutte to call the defense minister to account. Green Left party leader Jolande Sap also wants the prime minister to clarify the issue today. "
This is just the latest in a series of blunders by the defense minister. If he does not know the difference between deploying soldiers for a civilian mission or a military one, then I believe that this calls his credibility into question." Ms Sap said she was astonished by Mr Hillen's latest statements.
In the interview, the minister is quoted as saying: "I have repeatedly said: we must guard against superimposing our idealistic Dutch ideas on the hard realities of a war zone. Parliament may say it's a civilian mission, but it's primarily a military one."
He said he was glad parliament gave the go-ahead for the mission, "But I wanted parliament to be well aware of what it approved. I still feel it's strange that Kunduz cannot be called a military mission, while nearly all of them are soldiers. In the Netherlands we prefer just to look at the soft side of such an expedition, because we want to make the world a better place. But life is tough, and even more so in Kunduz."