Minister Hennis resigns

Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert has tendered her resignation. She announced her decision at the end of the debate prompted by the report by the OvV (Dutch Safety Board) on the mortar incident in Mali.

The minister ended the debate with the following words:

'Madam Chairman, I would ask your attention for the following:

Every day, thousands of military personnel work for freedom, stability and security. Close to home and far away.

In many cases they work in difficult conditions, they operate in high-risk situations, with many different weapons and many types of ammunition.

And so every effort must be made to guarantee the health and safety of our military personnel. Risks must be clearly identified and assessed.

The Dutch Safety Board rightly states that safety culture and safety awareness represent vital pillars for the Defence organisation.

Madam Chairman, I acknowledge that – at times – safety risks were inadequately identified or assessed.

I acknowledge that – at times – human action and inaction together formed the context for the tragic events in which two of our military personnel were killed and a third was seriously injured. That is intolerable.

For this, I am politically responsible. And I accept that responsibility. Full responsibility.

Madam Chairman, over the past years I have always acted in good faith. I have given my all in the service of Defence.

But for me it stops here. Today. I am stepping down as Minister of Defence.

I will therefore request His Majesty the King to accept my resignation with immediate effect. 

Madam Chairman, the Chief of Defence has also decided to resign from his post with immediate effect. The change of command ceremony, which had been arranged previously, will now not take place. That is his decision, and his alone. I respect that.

General Middendorp will explain his decision within the ministry this evening. 

Madam Chairman, from here too I want to thank General Middendorp, thank him for his tireless dedication. The trust between us has always been – and still is – beyond question. It has been a privilege to work with him.

As it has been to work with all Defence personnel, military and civilians alike. Each and every one of them unique and special people, to whom I owe much gratitude.

Madam Chairman, it only remains for me to thank you and the members of your House for your cooperation over the past years.'