Netherlands. According to Countryaah.com, Netherlands population in 2020 is estimated at 17,134,883. The Dutch UN intervention in Bosnia’s civil war in the 1990s continued to be dealt with in court. Relatives of three Muslims murdered in the city of Srebrenica were awarded damages by the Dutch state in April, and in July it was stated that the state was responsible for the deaths of over 300 Muslim men and boys. In both cases, the victims had been forced to leave the UN area Potočari, for which Dutch peacekeeping troops were responsible. But the state was released from responsibility for all the at least 8,000 killed in Srebrenica. The defendants, “Srebrenica’s mothers”, welcomed the Netherlands being held accountable but regretted that the verdict was no longer far-reaching.
In July, the Netherlands was shocked by the news that a Malaysian passenger aircraft on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed in Ukraine. Of almost 300 people on board, 193 were Dutch. Suspicions soon arose that the plane was shot down by Prorian separatists with a Russian-made robot. However, both Moscow and the separatists accused the Ukrainian military of the shooting. The battles in the region helped make it out in time before it was possible to retrieve remnants and even longer before wreckage could be moved. An emotional memorial ceremony was held in Amsterdam in November to honor the memory of the victims.
In January 2002, a law on active euthanasia came into force, which the Senate had enacted the year before. The Netherlands thus became the first country in the world to legalize this kind of death, but only on strictly adhered to criteria: the patient must suffer constant and unbearable pain, and repeatedly asked to be allowed to die. At the same time, the responsible physician must ask for another doctor’s assessment. When these conditions are met, the doctor can promptly provoke death.
On April 16, 2002, the government unexpectedly resigned in recognition of its co-responsibility for the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia in 1995. The official 7600 page report stated that the Dutch security forces in the area under UN command did nothing to prevent the massacre of 7,000 Bosnian Muslims in the hands of Bosnian Serbs. In fact, the victims were “evacuated” from the UN security zone by the Dutch soldiers, enabling the subsequent massacre. The report also accused the UN of not sending its peacekeeping troops away with a sufficiently clear mandate, and of not being sufficiently militarily equipped to defend the security zone. The Dutch soldiers had only been allowed to use their small arms in personal self-defense. The Dutch government’s resignation took place just weeks before the planned parliamentary elections on May 15.
A few days before the election, the heavily right-wing party leader Pim Fortuyn was murdered in the city of Hilversum. The government decided to conduct the election anyway, but the election campaign was canceled. Fortuyn had strongly endorsed the polls on his demand that the Netherlands completely close the borders on immigration, and he had also stated that Islam was a backward religion. He had also stated that 25% of the state employees should be fired. Shortly after the murder, police arrested a 32-year-old environmental activist who was later convicted.
The major victor of the election on May 15 was the Christian Democrats who got 43 seats, and in July the party’s leader, Jan Peter Balkenende, was named prime minister. Pim Fortuyn list became the second largest party with 26 seats, but was already plagued by fierce internal power struggles over who should lead the party after Fortuyn. However, the center-right government of Balken fell rapidly as a result of the power struggle in the Pim Fortuyn list (LPF), and a new election was held for January 2003.
The January 22, 2003 election was again won by the Christian Democrats with the People’s Party in 2nd place and Democratic Party 66 (Conservative) in 3rd place. The three parties formed a coalition government with Balkenende as prime minister. His means of reducing the government deficit and unemployment was the reduction of government spending. The LPF went back from 26 seats to 8.
In April 2004, more than 100 paintings stolen in the Netherlands were returned by the Nazis. The paintings had first been included in Hitler’s private collection, and then conquered by the Red Army, who after the war transferred them to the Soviet Union, where they had been in Kiev for 50 years. The paintings were presented at a ceremony in the Mariinsky Palace in Kiev with the participation of Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and the Dutch Prime Minister Balkenende.
In March, Queen Juliane died in Soestdijka Castle, where she had lived most of her 94-year-old life. She had ruled for 32 years since 1948.