Albert Gerard "Bert" Koenders is a Dutch politician and diplomat. He is a member of the Labour Party. He has been the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands since 17 October 2014. Koenders studied political science and international relations. He previously was a member of the House of Representatives, Minister for Development Cooperation, the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire, and the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali.
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My short bio:
I am Bert Koenders, minister of foreign and European affairs of the Netherlands. We currently hold the presidency of the EU.
As president, we want a European Union that focuses –among other things- on innovation and transparency. I've always felt that innovation has a big role to play in achieving that. We’ve launched an App Competition on EU-transparency and will host the first-ever European TransparencyCamp in Amsterdam in June. Find more information here:
Ask me anything! I’ll be taking your questions starting at about 1545 CET. I will do my best to answer as many of your questions as possible.
Here’s my proof!
THANKS REDDIT..it's been great, got to go now...Bert
Dear Mr. Bert Koenders,
In 2011, post Arab spring, the Dutch Government suspended exporting arms to areas in conflict or exposed to conflict such as the Kingdom of Bahrain. Now, the Dutch Government resumed its arms exports to the Kingdom of Bahrain and continues to do so to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia despite the human rights violations in Bahrain and the non-humanitarian war in Yemen. My first question, what is the legal benchmark to export Arms from the Netherlands to areas of conflict and to governments with a record of human rights violations ? Second question, why does the Netherlands continue to export arms to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, while it clearly expresses its concern of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and continued human rights violations in both Gulf States ? Does the Dutch Foreign Affairs consider to revisit its Arm export policy ?
Very relevant question.. Debate in parliament this week to discuss arms exports.. My line: No weapons to countries violating human rights, as our policy stipulates referring to those weapons that can be used for HR violations.
, idem if they can be used in regional conflicts. The Netherlands promotes common european positions on arms exports and arms control.
Dear mr. Koenders: what do you see happening in Syria on the mid to long term? There are countless videos which show entire cities in Syria in ruin, but how can we make this country liveable again in the future?
Also shoutout to /r/thenetherlands, the subreddit of the Netherlands, maybe in future you can hold a dutch AMA as well if this one goes okay!
I am very worried about the fate of the Syrian people. For five years they have been left-often literally-in the bitter cold. The only game in town is a diplomatic solution and empowering Stefan de Mistura.
How would you increase democratic accountability in the EU?
Excellent question. The European Union can become much more transparent and democratic. Proposals are being made to strengthen the role of national parliaments, to use methods like yellow and green cards,to be much more transparent on negotiations and to open up lobbyregisters/ So that people know what is going on, have much more influence, and know who is talking to the powerbrokers.
Would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck?
At the end of the day a military solution will not solve the problem against duck horses or horse ducks. What we need is a political process!
Dear Mr. Koenders,
First of all, thank you for doing this IAmA. I am Dutch as well (though currently not living in the Netherlands), and it's refreshing to see our politicians participating in alternative online media such as /r/IAmA.
I would like to ask you: What is your stance on the current migration crisis? Would you argue that the media is exaggerating the adverse effects of the inflowing refugees, or is the overall tone in the media not critical enough? (Especially on reddit there are frequent claims that Europe is too "politically correct".)
And assuming you consider the 'migration crisis' to be really a crisis - how would you try to simultaneously protect Europe, but also not leave millions up to a horrible fate in border camps or other dangerous areas?
I am against political correctness. There is a crisis related to the high flow of asylumseekers, which has to be managed. On the basis of our values, refugee law, and taking serious the concerns of our citizens. It is a complex issue. We have to combine support for countries like Jordan,Lebanon and Turkey, with proper screening at our external borders and solidarity and integration within Europe. And most importantly,opertionalize and execute what we have agreed in the European Union. Today we are all working on peace in Syria,am appalled by the continued bombardmends, they have to stop immediately.
Why should we vote yes on the coming Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement referendum?
Many reasons! It is good for the Dutch and Ukrainian people, helps stability on our eastern borders, creates economic opportunities and mutual trade, supports programmes to fight corruption and work together on issues like the trafficking of weapons etc. It is NOT a first step to EU Membership. This referendum is a new democratic instrument and I hope many will vote YES
How do you think green innovation should be handled in Europe? Should it be a market driven initiative, or should governments take a more prominent role? Does the European Union have a large role to play here, and are we up to the challenge?
Markets and Governments , Civil Society and Start Ups all have a role to play. The era of fossil fuel is definitely over after the historic agreement in Paris. The energy inion in Euope has a critical role to play in this transformation.
Out of curiosity, why should we vote no, besides symbolism?
Don't vote NO, YES is the better choice!
Thank you for doing this AMA minister Koenders,
Do you agree that we have to do more to engage young people in politics? If yes, what do you propose? On reddit we have a model parliament (like a model UN), where we simulate parliament. Should these things be supported?
Dank u dat u deze AMA doet minister Koenders.
Bent u het met mij eens dat er meer gedaan moet worden om jongeren te betrekken bij de politiek? En zo ja, wat vind U dat er gedaan moet worden? Op reddit bestaat er bijvoorbeeld een model Tweede Kamer (zoals een model verenigde naties), waarin wij het parlement simuleren. Zouden dit soort initiatieven gesteund moeten worden?
Yep, very important, I worked for many years as Head of peacekeeping operations in West Africa, inspired in my youth by model parliament and model UN
Dear mr. Koenders, What would you rather eat: a bossche bol or a stroopwafel?
In times of Bossche Bol
Beste minister Koenders, De EU Urban Agenda doelt op meer verankering van stedelijke dimensies in Europese beleidsvorming. Hoe (graag zo concreet mogelijk) zullen steden na aanname van het Pact van Amsterdam nog meer betrokken worden bij de beleidsvorming en wet- en regelgeving, los van de partnerships (waar enkel 5 steden aan deelnemen)?
Cities are the engines of innovation and change/ They are crucial actors when dealing with employment creation, service development and human development/ In cities you find also the modern problems of our