Rutte: ‘The Netherlands and Australia are united in grief’

Press statement by Prime Minister Mark Rutte after meeting Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, 11 August 2014.

On 17 July the Netherlands and Australia were struck by tragedy. The terrible disaster involving flight MH17 claimed the lives of many of our compatriots. The images from Australia’s day of national mourning last Thursday left a deep impression. The Netherlands and Australia feel the same sorrow, the same pain. Our countries may be thousands of kilometres apart, but we are united in grief.

Prime Minister Abbott and I have just discussed the aftermath of the disaster. Last week we had to decide to halt the repatriation mission in its present form. We would have preferred not to, but we both felt that it would be irresponsible to continue the mission given the current security situation.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Australian experts who, together with their Dutch and Malaysian colleagues and the OSCE, have carried out such difficult work in such challenging circumstances. I would also like to thank the Australians who are still working in Hilversum to identify the victims.

As I’ve said before: we’re putting our work on hold, but we’re not stopping. Prime Minister Abbott and I are committed to resuming the work at the crash site as soon as the situation stabilises sufficiently. The investigation into the cause of the crash is also continuing – the interruption of the repatriation mission will not change that.
We have been in close contact in recent weeks and have consistently adopted a common approach to the disaster. We will continue to do so in the future. It’s heart-warming to see how our two countries are standing together at this time of grief.

The current cooperation between the Netherlands and Australia continues our long tradition of close bilateral ties. We hold similar views on many issues, as shown by our joint approach to terrorism and cybercrime, our common stance on aid and trade, and our military cooperation. We are determined to vigorously continue all these forms of cooperation, alongside our joint efforts in the wake of the air disaster