Saturday, 26 May, 2018

'This is the Netherlands, you have to answer questions'

Pete Hoekstra Pete Hoekstra. U.S. Congress Wikimedia Commons
Charlie Simmons | 12 January, 2018, 06:17

The new American ambassador to the Netherlands, Peter Hoekstra, refused to comment at his inaugural press conference in Den Haag about his past allegations claiming politicians were set on fire in the Netherlands.

When Hoekstra, who was born in the Netherlands but raised in MI as a staunch social conservative, called for another question, two reporters asked him, "Why don't you answer the question?"

This story was recalled last month, when a Dutch reporter buttonholed Hoekstra, picked by President Trump to be ambassador to the Netherlands, and asked him about the statement he made. "I have advised, as I've advised most people, that when reporters are in front of you, just as you are in front of me, that it's always good to answer question". One asked Hoekstra if he would be visiting "our no-go areas".

Goldstein said Hoekstra would be interviewed by a Dutch media outlet on Friday and was expected to address the issue.

"Everybody there had one question: that insane statement you made, are you going to withdraw it?" said Roel Geeraedts, a political reporter at the Dutch television station RTL Nieuws in a phone interview about the event.

"Trump's Netherlands ambassador was asked to name a person 'burned" because of Islam. There are politicians that are being burned.

Hoekstra simply responded by saying, "Thank you".

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In late December, Hoekstra apologized for telling a Dutch journalist that he was peddling "fake news" when Hoekstra was the one caught telling untruths.

RTL political correspondent Roel Geeraedts, told the Washington Post in a telephone interview: 'We were all astonished he did not want to take back the comment. "That is actually an incorrect statement", he told reporter Wouter Zwart. Pressed further by Dutch reporters, the US ambassador simply refused to answer.

Video of the weird exchange, juxtaposed with his "no-go zone" remarks, went viral, and the episode drew a slew of critical headlines in the United States and the Netherlands.

The grilling continued with a different questioner: "Why don't you answer the question?"

On Thursday, reporters questioned Goldstein about the appropriateness of Hoekstra's ambassadorship in light of his performance at the news conference and additional statements beyond the 2015 conference where he appeared to spread anti-Muslim conspiracy theories.

In a 23 December note on Twitter, Hoekstra acknowledged having made the comments in 2015 and said he regretted his exchange with the Dutch news organisation: "I made certain remarks in 2015 and regret the exchange during the Nieuwsuur interview". "Please accept my apology", he wrote.

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