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NL could do better in implementing, enforcing sanctions: Foreign Min

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In the past period “it has become apparent that implementation and supervision of several sub-areas of the sanction package could be improved,” Minister Wopke Hoekstra of Foreign Affairs acknowledged in a letter to parliament. He blamed it on the speed at which sanctions were implemented against Russia and the “unprecedented scope” of the package. Earlier on Thursday, parliament accused Hoekstra of having too little overview of the enforcement of the sanctions.

The Minister even had to interrupt a debate because he did not have the information parliament demanded. He sent the info by letter later in the evening. Parliament was pleased with the overview but called its content “disturbing.” The parliamentarians feel that more should have happened by now – the war has been going on for more than a month. On Friday, the Council of Ministers will discuss “competent authorities in the fields of real estate, art, non-financial services, and business property” and working groups to monitor the sanctions. 

“Yes, a lot still needs to be done, but there is also a lot that the departments are doing,” said Hoekstra. “Really, no one has been doing nothing.” Many things have already been initiated, he stressed. He also pointed to the small 516 million euros in Russian money that have been frozen in the Netherlands. “But you keep discovering new things,” and new sanctions are added all the time. 

But the parties were left with many questions. Hoekstra’s answers did not reassure them either. They believe that too little has happened with sanction implementation since the war started. Oligarchs can still earn money from the buildings they rent out here, Jesse Klaver (GroenLinks) pointed out. “Shameful.” More parties are concerned about the real estate in Russian hands. Implementation is going too slowly, and there is too little coordination at the highest level,” said Lilian Ploumen (PvdA). 

Coalition parties are also critical of the government’s actions. D66 parliamentarian Sjoerd Sjoerdsma shares his colleagues’ concerns that Russians may be able to escape sanctions in the Netherlands. “The letter raises additional questions,” said Roelien Kamminga of the VVD. She wants to know how the government can accelerate the implementation of sanctions. Don Ceder of the ChristenUnie called it “painful” that 36 days after the start of the war and the announcement of the sanctions, the Netherlands is still talking about how to implement them. 

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