Last Friday, Minister Wopke Hoekstra (Foreign Affairs) announced the arrival of the National Coordinator. This came a day after Hoekstra came under heavy criticism in the House of Representatives over the implementation of the sanctions. Hoekstra could not say exactly what happened to ensure that the Russians on the sanctions list were dealt with.
“Really embarrassing,” GL leader Jesse Claver said. According to Member of Parliament Peter Umtzigt, the Netherlands has already given the Russian oligarchs more than a month to move their assets and property away from the Netherlands. “I don’t know if the government realizes how bad the situation is,” Umtzigt said.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Friday that the Netherlands “doesn’t do much worse” than France or Belgium, but the national coordinator has been appointed because “we want to make sure we don’t miss anything”. Eight ministries in the Netherlands are involved in the sanctions. Although Hoekstra is a “coordinating minister”, he has decided to appoint a coordinator himself.
Hoekstra spoke of “someone with a lot of weight” on Friday. This person was already on his mind, but he wanted to wait until Monday to announce the name. “Every time there is a problem, the coordinator has to make sure that a solution is found as quickly as possible,” Hoekstra said. “You don’t want to miss a day.”
Block served as a minister in the Rutte government for nearly ten years. He started in 2012 as Minister of Housing. In 2017, he was Minister of Security and Justice, becoming Minister of Foreign Affairs a year later. In 2021 he became Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate. Replace departing ministers regularly. Block knows most ministries like the back of his hand. Of the eight ministries that are now involved in sanctions against Russia, Blok has been at the head of at least four.
On Friday, not everyone was excited about the arrival of the Sanctions Coordinator. Umtzigt tweeted on Friday: “We already had a working group, committees, and task force. So that’s part of it!”
As of last Thursday, 516 million euros of Russian bank balances were frozen in the Netherlands. But Russian real estate – such as houses, yachts and paintings – has not yet been taken over. Services such as the Land Registry and other authorities should work with this.
Hear also ‘Ukraine Update’ on How the Netherlands Works”waiver† Imposing sanctions on Russia:
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