Rutte: 'Putin must take responsibility'
At 17:55 on Saturday afternoon Prime Minister Mark Rutte issued a new statement on the air disaster in Ukraine involving flight MH17. 'I want to see results in the form of unhindered access and a speedy recovery of the victims' remains. This is now priority number 1. Putin must take responsibility vis-à-vis the rebels and show the Netherlands and the world that he is doing what is expected of him,' Mr Rutte said.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte:
Ladies and gentlemen,
Malaysia Airlines just released the official passenger manifest of flight MH17. The victims now have names and faces, making the images of the crash site even more horrifying. Everyone can see the wreckage of the aircraft and the remains of the passengers and their personal belongings lying scattered around the scene.
Swift recovery of the victims' remains is now an absolute necessity and our highest priority. Anyone who fails to cooperate fully and immediately is leaving themselves open to very serious suspicions.
I am shocked by the images of completely disrespectful behaviour at this tragic place. In defiance of all the rules of proper investigation, people have evidently been picking through the personal and recognisable belongings of the victims. This is appalling.
And it is undermining efforts to investigate and reconstruct what happened. Yesterday I said that our priority was to uncover all the facts. It is now of the utmost urgency that the remains of the Dutch victims be repatriated swiftly. As Minister Timmermans of Foreign Affairs just reported, following close consultations with the Ukrainian authorities, the 1st Dutch forensics experts are on their way to the crash site. It is vital for them to be able to do their jobs, unimpeded and with full access.
President Putin pledged his full cooperation regarding unhindered access to the crash site when we spoke on the phone yesterday. Following today's developments and the pictures we saw this morning, I sent a message in writing to the president urging him to exercise his influence on the militias. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement today on this subject. I arrived at the press conference later than planned because I just had an extremely intensive telephone conversation with the Russian president. I told him that the window of opportunity to show the world that he intends to help is closing rapidly. He must take responsibility vis-à-vis the rebels and show the Netherlands and the world that he is doing what is expected of him. Yes, by exercising his influence.
This is also the opinion of Prime Minister Abbott of Australia, another country that has been hit hard by this tragedy. I spoke to him earlier today, and with my European colleagues Cameron and Merkel, who share the same view. I want to see results in the form of unhindered access and speedy recovery of the victims' remains. This is now priority number 1.