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Frans Timmermans: 'Assad is not off the hook'

The Dutch foreign minister shares his views on how to deal with the recent developments in the Syrian crisis.

Last Modified: 14 Sep 2013 11:41
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Several foreign affairs ministers believe the United Nations should be in charge of efforts to find a solution to the crisis raging in Syria.

Frans Timmermans, the Dutch foreign minister, as one of the first government officials has offered his nation's people and resources to help disarm the Assad regime of their chemical weapons - if the United Nations can reach an agreement to do so.

You cannot use chemical weapons in this day and age and then not suffer the consequences of your war crime ...

Frans Timmermans, the Netherlands foreign minister

"We are the depository of the chemical weapons treaty. We have the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) that is in The Hague in the Netherlands so we have a lot of expertise in this area. We have some institutions that can analyse chemical weapons so we are always prepared to help the OPCW and the international inspectors if that is needed," he said.

But sending people or soldiers to conflict zones to help bring peace does not always end well.

The European Union has been scarred by the experience of a decade ago when a US-led coalition invaded Iraq without UN backing.

And just last week, the Supreme Court in the Netherlands ruled that Dutch peacekeepers were liable for the deaths of three Bosnian Muslim men killed in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

The men had been ordered to leave a UN compound run by Dutch peacekeeping forces when Bosnian Serb forces overran it.

So given the complexity of the conflict in Syria - does he not have second thoughts about getting involved again? And would he support a military strike on Syria?

On Talk to Al Jazeera, Franciscus 'Frans' Timmermans, the Dutch foreign minister, makes his case for dealing with Syria.

"There is no legal motivation, there is no legal  justification for a strike to punish someone. The only legal justification you can get is to prevent the culprit from using chemical weapons against its population again - that is humanitarian intervention that could be justified - even if it is not entirely based on an legal act by the UN. It can still be legitimate because it is to prevent further butchery with weapons of mass destruction."

Frans Timmermans, the Dutch foreign minister


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