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Dutch foreign minister resigns after lying about Putin meeting

Dutch foreign minister resigns after lying about Putin meeting

Halbe Zijlstra, The Netherlands’ foreign minister has resigned on Tuesday because his credibility was totally damaged after he admitted to lying about meeting Vladimir Putin and claiming the Russian president had expansionist designs about creating a “Greater Russia”. 

Dutch foreign minister had only been foreign minister for four months, his career has drastically down after Mr Zijlstra said at a VVD party conference in 2016 that he heard Vladimir Putin talking about plans to expand the country’s borders and create a “Great Russia” that would include Belarus, Ukraine, the Baltic countries and possibly Kazakhstan.

But Mr Zijlstra, who was appointed foreign minister last year, told a Dutch newspaper on Monday he had lied about being in the room. Instead, he said he had reported the comments to protect his source, who was present when the comments were made.

The Russian embassy in The Netherlands has previously complained about Mr Zijlstra’s statement and accused Dutch officials of constantly making unfounded claims about Russia.

On Tuesday, Halbe Zijlstra said making his prior statements was “not a smart move,” telling the Dutch parliament that it was “the biggest mistake” of his career.

“I should not have done this and I am very sorry,”

he said and added that it’s all about the credibility of the minister domestically and abroad.

‘To not further impact the position [of foreign minister], I see no other option than to submit my resignation,’

Halbe Zijlstra concluded.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte, whom Zijlstra said was informed of the story some weeks ago, defended the foreign minister on Monday, saying he was still “credible” because the content of the story is “not up for discussion.”