Barely a day after admitting that he lied about attending a meeting hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin more than a decade ago, the Dutch foreign affairs minister has resigned from his post, citing incompetence, self-doubt and unreliability as reasons for the decision.
Halbe Zijlstra was overwhelmed by emotions after reports confirmed he would be grilled by opposition lawmakers on Tuesday. He reportedly announced his resignation shortly before the scheduled debate.
“The Netherlands deserves a minister who is above any doubt,” said Zijlstra on his reason for quitting office.
Image: Halbe Zijlstra
Zijlstra, 49, claimed he attended a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin in 2006, but that wasn’t his only lie, he also misinterpreted Putin’s statements given to him by his source who was there.
According to Volkskrant, the former diplomat admitted telling a lie but said he did it to protect the alleged source, a former Shell CEO named Jeroen van der Veer.
Now it seems that Zijlstra’s statements about what Putin said at that meeting in 2006 were not quite correct, Jeroen insists that his warning is real and says the Russian threat is real.
“Putin is striving for a Great Russia, looking to gain power in Belarus, Ukraine, the Baltic States, and Kazakhstan was ‘nice to have,'” Jeroen said, adding that the Russian president’s statements about Great Russia were “meant historically,” and looking at it from an angle, one can rightly agree that Great Russia is larger than current Russia.
The four government parties think Zijlstra was wrong to have lied about his presence at the event.
Jeroen also said he’s unsure about some of Zijlstra’s quotes, particularly on Kazakhstan, at that time.
“I do not remember how I told Zijlstra about the specific countries at the time, but the term ‘nice to have’ is not something I’d say,” he said in a statement.
The accused minister has apologized for the lie, saying it was “by far” the biggest mistake of his political life.