Dries van Agt

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His Excellency
Dries van Agt
Dries van Agt, 2011 (cropped).jpg
Dries van Agt in 2011
Prime Minister of the Netherlands
In office
19 December 1977 – 4 November 1982
Monarch Juliana (1977–1980)
Beatrix (1980–1982)
Deputy
Preceded by Joop den Uyl
Succeeded by Ruud Lubbers
Ambassador of the European Union to the United States
In office
1 January 1990 – 1 April 1995
Preceded by Roy Denman
Succeeded by Hugo Paemen
Ambassador of the European Union to Japan
In office
1 January 1987 – 1 January 1990
Preceded by Laurens Jan Brinkhorst
Succeeded by Unknown
Queen's Commissioner of North Brabant
In office
1 June 1983 – 22 April 1987
Monarch Beatrix
Preceded by Jan Dirk van der Harten
Succeeded by Frank Houben
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
28 May 1982 – 4 November 1982
Prime Minister Himself
Preceded by Max van der Stoel
Succeeded by Hans van den Broek
Parliamentary leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal in the House of Representatives
In office
10 June 1981 – 24 August 1981
Preceded by Ruud Lubbers
Succeeded by Ruud Lubbers
In office
8 June 1977 – 19 December 1977
Preceded by New title
Succeeded by Willem Aantjes
Leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal
In office
10 December 1976 – 25 October 1982
Preceded by New title
Succeeded by Ruud Lubbers
Deputy Prime Minister of the Netherlands
In office
11 May 1973 – 8 September 1977
Prime Minister Joop den Uyl
Preceded by Roelof Nelissen
Molly Geertsema
Succeeded by Gaius de Gaay Fortman
Member of the House of Representatives
In office
16 September 1982 – 16 June 1983
In office
10 June 1981 – 9 September 1981
In office
8 June 1977 – 19 December 1977
In office
23 January 1973 – 22 April 1973
Minister of Justice
In office
6 July 1971 – 8 September 1977
Prime Minister Barend Biesheuvel (1971–1973)
Joop den Uyl (1973–1977)
Preceded by Carel Polak
Succeeded by Gaius de Gaay Fortman
Personal details
Born Andreas Antonius Maria van Agt
(1931-02-02) 2 February 1931 (age 86)
Geldrop, Netherlands
Nationality Dutch
Political party Christian Democratic Appeal (from 1980)
Other political
affiliations
Catholic People's Party (until 1980)
Spouse(s) Eugenie Krekelberg (m. 1958)
Children Eugenie (born 1959)
Frans (born 1961)
Caroline (born 1963)
Residence Nijmegen, Netherlands
Alma mater Radboud University Nijmegen (Bachelor of Laws, Master of Laws)
Occupation Politician · Diplomat · Civil servant · Jurist · Lawyer · Judge · Researcher · Nonprofit director · Lobbyist · Activist · Author · Professor
Signature
Website (in Dutch) Official site

Andreas Antonius Maria "Dries" van Agt (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈdris fɑn ˈɑxt];[1] born 2 February 1931) is a retired Dutch politician and diplomat of the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA). He served as Prime Minister of the Netherlands from 19 December 1977 until 4 November 1982.

Van Agt a jurist by occupation, worked as a lawyer for the law firm Van der Putt, Nijst, Van Sandick en Depla from 1956 until 1958 when he became a civil servant working for the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Ministry of Justice until 1968. Van Agt became a professor of criminal procedure at the Radboud University Nijmegen in 1968; in 1971 he was appointed as a judge at the court of Arnhem. After the Dutch general election of 1971 Van Agt was asked by the Catholic People's Party (KVP) to become Minister of Justice in the Cabinet Biesheuvel I. Van Agt accepted and resigned as a professor and judge the same day he took office as the new Minister of Justice on 6 July 1971. Van Agt remained Minister of Justice in the Cabinet Den Uyl following the Dutch general election of 1972 and also became Deputy Prime Minister on 11 May 1973. On 10 December 1976 Van Agt was selected as the first Leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal and became the Lijsttrekker (top candidate) for the Dutch general election of 1977. He resigned as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice to become the first Parliamentary leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal in the House of Representatives and a Member of the House of Representatives taking office on 8 June 1977. Following the election the Christian Democratic Appeal became the second largest party in the House of Representatives.

After a failed cabinet formation with the Labour Party, Van Agt struck a deal with the Leader of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy Hans Wiegel that resulted in the formation of the Cabinet Van Agt-Wiegel with Van Agt becoming Prime Minister of the Netherlands taking office on 19 December 1977. With the following Dutch general election of 1981, Van Agt again as Lijsttrekker lost one seat and a coalition formation with the Labour Party and the Democrats 66 (D66) resulted in the Cabinet Van Agt II. On 29 May 1982 the Cabinet Van Agt II collapsed after the Labour Party retracted their support. A rump cabinet Van Agt III was formed with Van Agt also serving as Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Cabinet Van Agt III stayed in office until the Dutch general election of 1982. Van Agt again as Lijsttrekker lost three seats and the Christian Democratic Appeal became the second largest party. A cabinet formation with the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) was formed but Van Agt unexpectedly announced his retirement from national politics and stood down as Leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal on 25 October 1982. Van Agt remained Prime Minister of the Netherlands until the Cabinet Lubbers I was installed on 4 November 1982.

After his premiership, Van Agt remained in active politics and became the Queen's Commissioner of North Brabant taking office on 1 June 1983, on 22 April 1987 Van Agt resigned as Queen's Commissioner because of criticism on his cooperation with the States-Provincial. Van Agt he became a diplomat for the European Communities and served as Ambassador of the European Union to Japan from 1 April 1987 until 1 January 1990 when he became Ambassador of the European Union to the United States serving until 1 April 1995 when he retired from politics at the age of sixty-four. Following the end of his active political career, Van Agt occupied numerous seats on supervisory boards on international non-governmental organizations (InterAction Council, Green Cross International and the Edmund Burke Foundation). Van Agt served as a visiting professor of international relations at the Ritsumeikan University, the United Nations University and the Kwansei Gakuin University from 1995 until 2004.

Van Agt is known for his abilities as a negotiator and debater, during his premiership, his cabinets were responsible for reforming the public sector and civil service and the struggle with the recession in the 1980s. He holds the distinction of being the first Christian Democratic Appeal Prime Minister of the Netherlands. Van Agt also has been active as an anti-war and human rights activist and as an advocate in promoting the Two-state solution for the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Van Agt continues to comment on political affairs as a statesman,[2] with the death of Piet de Jong in July 2016, he became the oldest living former Dutch Prime Minister.

Early life[edit]

Andreas Antonius Maria van Agt was born on 2 February 1931 in Geldrop in the Netherlands Province of North Brabant in a Roman Catholic family. After receiving his diploma Gymnasium-A at the Augustinianum he studied at the Catholic University of Nijmegen, where he received his Doctorate in Law in 1955. After graduating, he practiced law in Eindhoven until 1957, after which he worked in the office of legal and business affairs of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries until 1962, from 1962 to 1968, he worked for the Ministry of Justice.

Politics[edit]

Minister and Deputy Prime Minister[edit]

Dries van Agt as Minister of Justice in 1971.

Van Agt entered politics as a member of the Catholic People's Party, which merged with the other two major Christian Democratic parties in 1980 to form the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), from 1968 to 1971, Van Agt was Professor of Criminal Law at the Catholic University of Nijmegen. From 1971 to 1973, he was Minister of Justice in the government of Barend Biesheuvel, he caused outrage when he tried to pardon the last three Nazi war criminals still in Dutch prisons in 1972. From 1973 to 1977 he was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice in the government of Joop den Uyl.

Leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal[edit]

In 1976, Van Agt was elected the first Leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal, then still a federation of the three religious parties Christian Historical Union, Catholic People's Party and Anti-Revolutionary Party, which first ran in 1977 with a united list (the merger followed in 1980). With Van Agt as top candidate, the Christian Democratic Appeal reversed in 1977 years of decline to return to power.

Prime Minister in the Cabinet Van Agt I[edit]

In the parliamentary elections of May 1977 the Labour Party obtained their largest amount of seats, so a second Den Uyl coalition looked likely. However, the tension between the Catholic People's Party and the Labour Party in the last reign, combined with the fact that a coalition between Christian Democratic Appeal and the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy was possible, the talks failed after a period of seven months. Eventually Van Agt negotiated a deal with Hans Wiegel, leader of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy. From 19 December 1977 to 11 September 1981 Van Agt was Prime Minister of the Netherlands and Minister of General Affairs in the Cabinet Van Agt I.

Prime Minister in the Cabinet Van Agt II[edit]

Dries van Agt at Andrews Field in Maryland in 1981.
Dries van Agt and Prime Minister of Japan Zenkō Suzuki in 1981.

In 1981, the Christian Democratic Appeal, People's Party for Freedom and Democracy and Labour Party lost parliamentary seats, so a continuation of a Christian Democratic Appeal-People's Party for Freedom and Democracy coalition was not possible. Van Agt, leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal, was forced to go in coalition with the Labour Party. Also Democrats 66 (which, under Jan Terlouw gained a significant amount of seats) participated in the coalition talks, after 3 months of difficult negotiations that resulted in the Cabinet Van Agt II (11 September 1981 – 29 May 1982); in this composition Van Agt worked with Joop den Uyl again as Den Uyl was made Deputy Prime Minister and "super minister" of Social Affairs and Employment. The characterological and political differences led to several divisions, and in May 1982 the government fell.

The personal strife between Van Agt and Den Uyl were so deteriorated that when Den Uyl died from a brain tumor in 1987, Van Agt was not invited to the memorial by the family. Den Uyl's wife Liesbeth argued that Van Agt had prevented the second Den Uyl coalition from forming in 1977.

Prime Minister in the Cabinet Van Agt III[edit]

The caretaker government went through as a minority cabinet, with only ministers from the parties Christian Democratic Appeal and Democrats 66, in the Cabinet Van Agt III, for replacing the six Labour Party ministers, five new Christian Democratic Appeal and Democrats 66 ministers were in place, while van Agt in the cabinet, as well as being Prime Minister was also Minister of Foreign Affairs.

New parliamentary elections were organized for September 1982, although Van Agt, by this point was worn out, he was persuaded again to be Leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal but shortly after the election he withdrew as a candidate for prime minister and was succeeded by Ruud Lubbers.

Queen's Commissioner[edit]

when he was appointed as the Queen's Commissioner of the province North Brabant.

After politics[edit]

Dries van Agt and Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte in 2011.

Diplomat[edit]

Dries van Agt served as Ambassador of the European Community to Japan from 1987 to 1990 and to the United States from 1990 to 1995. From 1995 to 1996, he was a Visiting Professor of International Relations at the University of Kyoto.

Professor[edit]

He is currently Prime Counsellor for the International Forum for Justice and Peace, a foundation under Dutch law, registered at the Chamber of Commerce in Amsterdam. Chaired by retired international businessman Ben Smoes, they are currently focused on justice and peace in regard to the Israel/Palestine conflict

Activist[edit]

Van Agt lectured in May 2006 in Cairo at the invitation of the Egyptian electronic magazine Arab-West Report about great changes in the cultural climate of north-western Europe in the past decades, becoming more hostile to religion, including Islam. Muslims, he argued, need to understand those changes in order to be able to respond better to European criticism on Islam and the Muslim world.[3]

Van Agt has also spoken against the Council of State in Egypt for continuous delay in granting the Center for Arab-West Understanding (CAWU) the NGO status. He met with prominent figures in Egypt to persuade them to do so, the Egyptian Council of State, after van Agt's visit to Cairo in 2006, ruled on February 18, 2007 that the Center should be recognized as an NGO under Egyptian law, ending its three-year struggle to obtain this status. Egypt is known for its reluctance in granting NGO status in order to discourage political participation. Cornelis Hulsman, a Dutch sociologist, the editor-in-chief of Arab-West Report, and the head of CAWU, stated that van Agt's effort significantly impacted the realization of their goals, which usually requires a lengthy amount of time and scrutiny in its political purposes.

For some years he has taken an outspoken stance regarding the Middle East, resulting in a fierce criticism of the policies undertaken by the government of Israel with regard to the Palestinians. When in office, van Agt was a staunch supporter of Israel, but after he stepped down in 1982 he changed his mind.[4] According to his own words an important turning point was a visit at the late nineties at Bethlehem University on the Israeli-occupied West Bank,[5][6] he has accused Israel of "state terrorism" and turning the Palestinian Authority territories into "bantustans".[7] In 2012, Van Agt said that Jews should have a state in Germany instead of Israel;[8] in September 2016, in reference to the visit of Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netenyahu to the Netherlands, van Agt argued that the ongoing Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and the building of settlements there constituted a war crime under the Rome Statute and suggested that Netenyahu should have been sent to the International Criminal Court.[9]

Personal[edit]

Van Agt is known for his use of archaic language and complicated phrasing, as well as for his love for cycling, he married his wife Eugenie Krekelberg in 1958, and has three children and seven grandchildren with her. In 2012 he joined the Advisory Board of the International Museum for Family History.

Decorations[edit]

Honours[edit]

Honours
Ribbon bar Honour Country Date Comment
Order of Orange ribbon.gif Honorary Medal for Initiative and Ingenuity of the Order of the House of Orange Netherlands 19 September 1974
NLD Order of Orange-Nassau - Knight Grand Cross BAR.png Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Orange-Nassau Netherlands 9 December 1982

Awards[edit]

Awards
Ribbon bar Award Country Date
Honorary citizen of Geldrop Netherlands 1988
Honorary citizen of Lille France 1998
Honorary citizen of North Brabant Netherlands 2002
Cannabis Culture Award of the Hash, Marihuana & Hemp Museum Netherlands 12 November 2009

Honorary Degrees[edit]

Honorary Degrees
University Field City / Country Date
Radboud University Nijmegen Law Nijmegen, Netherlands
Ritsumeikan University Political science Kyoto, Japan
Kwansei Gakuin University Political science Nishinomiya, Japan
Hansung University Law Seoul, South Korea
University of South Carolina Political science Columbia, South Carolina, United States

References[edit]

  1. ^ van in isolation: [vɑn].
  2. ^ (in Dutch) Dries van Agt (1931), Absolutefacts.nl, 10 December 2008
  3. ^ For the full text of his lecture, entitled, “Cultures between Clash and Reconciliation: The Role of the Media and Academia,” see AWR, 2006, week 53, art. 3
  4. ^ "Former Dutch PM champions Palestinian cause", Radio Netherlands Worldwide (10 December 2009).
  5. ^ (in Dutch) "De bekering van Dries van Agt" Archived October 19, 2013, at the Wayback Machine., HP|DE TIJD, 29 September 2006
  6. ^ (in Dutch) "'Ik kan het wel uitschreeuwen', interview oud-premier Dries van Agt, NRC Handelsblad, 22 augustus 2009
  7. ^ Cnaan Liphshiz, 'Dutch Jimmy Carter' accuses Israel of terrorism in new book Haaretz (27-06-2008).
  8. ^ Former Dutch PM: Jews should have had a state in Germany, The Times of Israel (11 November 2012).
  9. ^ Cockburn, Harry (6 September 2016). "Former Dutch PM calls Benjamin Netanyahu a 'war criminal' who should be tried in The Hague". independent.co.uk. Retrieved 27 September 2016. 

External links[edit]

Official
Party political offices
New title Leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal
1976–1982
Succeeded by
Ruud Lubbers
Parliamentary leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal
in the House of Representatives

1977
Succeeded by
Willem Aantjes
Preceded by
Ruud Lubbers
Parliamentary leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal
in the House of Representatives

1981
Succeeded by
Ruud Lubbers
Political offices
Preceded by
Carel Polak
Minister of Justice
1971–1977
Succeeded by
Gaius de Gaay Fortman
Preceded by
Roelof Nelissen
Molly Geertsema
Deputy Prime Minister of the Netherlands
1973–1977
Preceded by
Joop den Uyl
Prime Minister of the Netherlands
1977–1982
Succeeded by
Ruud Lubbers
Minister of General Affairs
1977–1982
Preceded by
Max van der Stoel
Minister of Foreign Affairs
1982
Succeeded by
Hans van den Broek
Preceded by
Jan Dirk van der Harten
Queen's Commissioner of North Brabant
1983–1987
Succeeded by
Frank Houben
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Laurens Jan Brinkhorst
Ambassador of the European Union to Japan
1987–1990
Succeeded by
Jean-Pierre Leng
Preceded by
Roy Denman
Ambassador of the European Union to the United States
1990–1995
Succeeded by
Hugo Paemen