The U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands has been accused of interfering in national politics after hosting an event for the far-right Forum for Democracy party.
The event, held at the American Embassy in Wassenaar on September 10, featured between 30 and 40 “party officials and wealthy entrepreneurs,” according to Dutch magazine De Groene Amsterdammer. Ambassador Pete Hoekstra spoke at the event. Hoekstra, who was born in the Netherlands but raised in Michigan, was appointed by Donald Trump in 2017.
Other political parties, including Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s VVD, have raised questions about the event and whether it should have been allowed. “Of course this should not have happened,” MP Bram van Ojik from the Greens told broadcaster NOS. “This is interference in our elections.”
A lawmaker from the social-liberal D66 party said the event may have even violated the Vienna Convention, which states foreign diplomats should not interfere in a host nation’s politics. “Text and explanation are needed here,” Sjoerd Sjoerdsma said.
Dutch Trade Minister Sigrid Kaag said the government had contacted the U.S. Embassy and was told that invitations had been sent to all political parties. Kaag added that the foreign ministry had requested a meeting between Hoekstra and Foreign Minister Stef Blok to discuss the matter further.
One unnamed entrepreneur who was present at the event told De Groene Amsterdammer it was “certainly not a town hall meeting … it was more of an informal kick-off for the election campaign.” The next Dutch national election is scheduled for March 2021.
Thierry Baudet, the leader of Forum for Democracy, said claims the event was a fundraiser were “nonsense” and a “conspiracy theory.”
This is not the first time Hoekstra has been associated with the far-right party. In May, he was interviewed by Baudet for the party’s video channel and he was also a guest speaker at the party’s conference last November.
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