Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Halbe Zijlstra, announcing his resignation in the House of Representatives

Madam President,

Thank you for the opportunity to make this statement.

I stand before you with a heavy heart. I have been active in national politics for over 11 years, and I must now account for what is by far the biggest mistake I have made in my whole career.

I claimed to be present at what seemed to me a highly significant occasion when in reality I was not. It is abundantly clear that this decision to try and give weight to my account of the event without revealing my source, was wrong. I shouldn’t have done that, and I am deeply sorry.

Madam President,

Today’s session is about the credibility of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. That credibility must be above reproach, both domestically and internationally.

Only then can I operate without reservations in my dealings abroad. Only then can I optimally defend the interests of all the people and businesses in the Netherlands and in Aruba, Curaçao and St Maarten ull commitment. Only then can I serve the interests of the whole Kingdom. I have performed these tasks with all my heart from the moment I took office. Just as I had intended to do in the years ahead.

Madam President,

We are privileged to live in a country where the truth matters. A country where a falsehood cannot be brushed aside, but rather leads to a debate, to a moment like this. You know me to be open and forthright, and it is in that spirit that I have chosen to deal with this unfortunate matter, for which I have no one to blame but myself.

So as not to encumber the office of foreign minister, I see no other choice but to tender my resignation to His Majesty the King.

I do this with heartfelt regret, but in the full conviction that the Netherlands deserves a Minister of Foreign Affairs whose conduct is above reproach. A minister who can fulfil the important job he or she has been entrusted with, without reservations.

Over the past few years I have been active in various administrative roles, and this is work that has brought me a great deal of satisfaction.

I would have liked my term as minister to have turned out differently. I was full of energy and plans, after we got off to such a promising start. I thank everyone that I was fortunate enough to work with in the past few months, including members of parliament, and particularly the staff at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a special workplace full of loyal professionals, which it was my all too brief pleasure to lead. They were of great support to me, and I am convinced that they will assist my successor with the same professionalism.

All that remains is for me to wish you, and my successor, all the best.