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The Netherlands Hopes for Diplomatic Solution to Arctic Sunrise Case

Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said in an interview with RIA Novosti that he hopes the Arctic Sunrise case will be resolved by diplomatic means.

MOSCOW, November 10 (RIA Novosti) - Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said in an interview with RIA Novosti that he hopes the Arctic Sunrise case will be resolved by diplomatic means.

“Well, we discussed it [with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov] at great length… both legal aspects and the court case, but also mutual wish to find a diplomatic solution,” Timmermans said. “We have explored the legal aspects of the case, but we haven’t come to concrete steps forward on the diplomatic solution.”

“But we’ve expressed… our intention of having close contacts in the days and weeks ahead to make sure that we can find the diplomatic solution,” he told RIA Novosti on Saturday.

The Dutch-registered Greenpeace icebreaker, the Arctic Sunrise, was seized by Russian border guards in September. All 30 people on board the vessel were detained by Russian authorities after activists attempted to scale a rig belonging to Russian state-owned gas giant Gazprom in protest against drilling in the Arctic.

The Dutch government has taken the Arctic Sunrise case to an international tribunal, demanding Russia release both the ship and its multinational crew, who have all been charged with hooliganism. Russia has refused to participate in the arbitration process.

Russia lashed out Friday at the Netherlands for what it said was the country’s failure to prevent the Arctic Sunrise from entering Arctic waters. The comments by Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich cast a shadow over a visit to Moscow by Dutch King Willem-Alexander II, designed to mark the culmination of a year of cooperation between the two nations.

Timmermans, who is accompanying the Dutch king during his visit to Russia, briefly discussed Dutch-Russian relations, which have recently soured over a few issues, including the arrest of a Russian diplomat in The Hague and Russia's seizure of the Arctic Sunrise, with his Russian counterpart Lavrov late Friday before Lavrov departed to Geneva for talks on Iran on Saturday morning, Timmermans said.

He told RIA Novosti that “the diplomatic incidents are deplorable.” “I believe that we are now at the point where we can hopefully close those incidents and put them behind us,” the Dutch diplomat said.

Russian diplomat Dmitry Borodin was in early October illegally detained and allegedly assaulted by police in The Hague on accusations that he had mistreated his children. The Netherlands apologized to Russia after the brief detention.

A week after the detention, two men posing as electricians attacked senior Dutch diplomat Onno Elderenbosch at his Moscow apartment.

Timmermans told RIA Novosti that he does not believe there are “grounds for compensation” to Borodin over the incident, but expressed hope that the two countries “come to an agreement that is acceptable to both parties.” He also praised Russia’s ongoing investigation of the attack on Elderenbosch.


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