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Minister Blok concerned about leaving US from Syria

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The departure of the American army from Syria is ‘possibly very drastic’, says Minister Stef Blok (Foreign Affairs). According to him, it can lead to a ‘huge shift in power relations’ and new battles.

His ministry has been ‘very briefly’ informed of the American decision at official level. It is being discussed with allies about the consequences of the decision made by US President Donald Trump on Twitter. 

According to Blok, the step of Washington has no consequences for the deployment of Dutch F-16s against terrorist group IS in East Syria and Iraq. That contribution will end at the end of this month. The consequences for the Dutch military in Iraq can not yet be estimated.

‘Islamic State defeated’ 

Trumps government has begun recalling US military from Syria,  confirmed yesterday  by the White House. According to Trump, this is possible because terrorist group Islamic State (IS) has been defeated. It involves a total of more than two thousand soldiers. The intention is that in sixty to one hundred days all the men from Syria are gone.

But Minister Ank Bijleveld (Defense) emphasized in the House that the terrorist group has not yet been overcome. “IS can come up again.” “According to her, there are still several thousand IS fighters in Syria and Iraq.

Turkey

In the House of Representatives there are also ‘major concerns’ about Trump’s decision. MPs fear that the violence will flare up. In the field of interference with Syria, the US is at odds with NATO ally Turkey. Ankara has announced a military campaign against Kurdish troops in Syria. According to Turkey, these units formed the Syrian branch of the forbidden Kurdistan Workers’ Party PKK. For the Americans, the Kurdish troops are allies in the fight against IS.

The parties believe that Turkey should be made very clear that it should not carry out a new attack on the Kurds in northern Syria. The pressure on the Turkish government must be stepped up, according to the House.

Blok said that the European Union had already issued a declaration on this subject to Ankara and that the issue would be raised during the forthcoming consultations of EU Foreign Ministers. He will also address them in bilateral talks with Turkey.

He said he was waiting for more information from Washington. GroenLinks MP Bram van Ojik calls the American government’s way of acting staggering.

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Cultural sector in action against sexual harassment

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The cultural sector is taking action to reduce sexual harassment. Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven and representatives of the arts are going to make plans to create ‘a safe working environment’, starting at the theater academies, conservatoires and other courses. From now on, complaints must also be dealt with better.
Van Engelshoven has been shocked by a recent survey, which seems to indicate that sexual harassment is common in the arts. Nearly half of the employees questioned by the Brandpunt + television program and cultural staff representative organizations said they had to deal with sexually exceeding behavior in the workplace.

The minister and the sector spoke to each other today and agreed to work on a joint action plan in the spring. Van Engelshoven previously said that she thinks that employers in the arts should take their responsibility. She does not feel like having an independent investigation herself.

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Bomb under the Climate Agreement: environmental organizations and FNV withdraw

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Five environmental organizations, trade union FNV and an organization for sustainable enterprise can not live with the proposed Climate Agreement. They are particularly dissatisfied with the agreements with industry in the agreement, which will be presented tomorrow.

The business community must be tackled more harshly for the pollution of the environment with the emission of the greenhouse gas CO2, they think. 

The dissatisfied are Greenpeace, Milieudefensie, Natuur & Milieu, Natuur en Milieufederaties, the Jonge Klimaatbeweging, MVO Nederland and the FNV. According to the organizations, the likelihood of agreement has not completely failed. They report that ‘high-level’ consultations are taking place this evening. Perhaps then a ‘god wonder’ happens. 

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Rita Verdonk will tackle regulatory pressure in the healthcare sector

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Former minister Rita Verdonk sets to work as a special adviser to tackle the regulatory burden in home care and youth care. 

Within one year, the administrative burden for professionals and care providers must be significantly reduced, Minister Hugo de Jonge (VWS), the Association of Dutch Municipalities (VNG) and eight healthcare umbrella organizations have agreed.

The administrative burden is a thorn in the eyes of many employees in youth care and social support. The government therefore wants, together with municipalities and care providers, to arrange less paperwork. This leaves more time for care and support.

Scraping sessions

Rita Verdonk will work as a special advisor to the program. She will also organize various sessions with employers and employees to delete rules.

The approach is in line with the support of municipalities by former alderman Martijn Leisink. On his advice, municipalities and healthcare providers have been working together on reducing the regulatory burden for some time. 

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