At the entrance to the county government building in Groningen, negotiators are greeted by a large screen, with victims from the north sharing “a small portion of the Gronings’ suffering” under the title “Lost Trust”. “Listen to the Groningers,” it sounds from the screen. It is exactly what the party leaders VVD, D66, CDA and CU want to do today. As their seconds continue to negotiate the location, the numbers enter into conversation with the victims.
Monique Kluck is not one of them. She “really likes to get in” to tell how her Roodeschool farm is now a “complete loss” due to earthquakes caused by gas extraction in Groningen. Not only did it cost her her home, it also cost her her health and her job. “I’ve lost everything.”
Photo before formation talks start in Groningen County Government.
Ⓒ ANP / ANP
Klok is not allowed to join the conversations, but she has a message she’d like to send to VVD leader Mark Rutte. It works if the politicians mingle with the attendees on arrival. He promised that the liberal leader would “definitely read it”. Rutte also receives a business card from a farmers’ organization that also wants to speak. “Be sure to hit the nail on the head and not next to it,” the VVD leader receives as advice on shaping. “Do your best.”
King Groningen’s commissioner, Rene Bass, host in the provincial government, finds the frustration of earthquake victims, who have been waiting for compensation for damages to their homes, ‘justified and understandable’: if it takes so long to live in a labyrinth of incomprehensible rules, it happens Something wrong with the best of intentions.”
He is glad that the negotiators are coming to Groningen. “It is useful for the negotiators to look at the Netherlands a bit from Groningen.” Rutte, but also Wopke Hoekstra (CDA) and especially Gert-Jan Segers (CU), took the opportunity to engage in conversation with attendees outside the county government. On the other hand, D66 negotiators Sigrid Kaag and Rob Jetten immediately entered.
“What we’re all seeing is that expectations are really high,” Hoekstra concludes. Perhaps the Rutte, Hoekstra, and Segers will smooth them out right away. They all say they are “no illusion” that they can “solve all Groningen’s problems today”. They are careful not to promise the northerners anything along those lines. Rota: “We haven’t been able to deliver on many promises.”
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