Dries van Agt

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His Excellency
Dries van Agt
Dries van Agt 1980.jpg
Queen's Commissioner of North Brabant
In office
June 1, 1983 – April 22, 1987
Monarch Beatrix
Preceded by Jan Dirk van der Harten
Succeeded by Frank Houben
Member of the House of Representatives
In office
September 16, 1982 – June 16, 1983
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
May 28, 1982 – November 4, 1982
Prime Minister Dries van Agt
Preceded by Max van der Stoel
Succeeded by Hans van den Broek
Prime Minister of the Netherlands
In office
December 19, 1977 – November 4, 1982
Monarch Juliana (1977-1980)
Beatrix (1980-1982)
Deputy Hans Wiegel (1977-1981)
Joop den Uyl (1981-1982)
Jan Terlouw (1981-1982)
Preceded by Joop den Uyl
Succeeded by Ruud Lubbers
Party leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal
In office
October 22, 1976 – October 13, 1982
Preceded by Position created
Succeeded by Ruud Lubbers
Member of the House of Representatives
In office
June 8, 1977 – December 19, 1977
Parliamentary leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal in the House of Representatives
In office
May 26, 1977 – December 19, 1977
Preceded by Position created
Succeeded by Wim Aantjes
Deputy Prime Minister of the Netherlands
In office
May 11, 1973 – September 8, 1977
Prime Minister Joop den Uyl
Preceded by Roelof Nelissen
Molly Geertsema
Succeeded by Wilhelm Friedrich de Gaay Fortman
Minister of Justice
In office
July 6, 1971 – September 8, 1977
Prime Minister Barend Biesheuvel (1971-1973)
Joop den Uyl (1973-1977)
Preceded by Carel Polak
Succeeded by Wilhelm Friedrich de Gaay Fortman
Personal details
Born Andreas Antonius Maria van Agt
(1931-02-02) February 2, 1931 (age 83)
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
Frans
Caroline
Residence Nijmegen, Netherlands
Alma mater Radboud University Nijmegen
(Master of Laws)
Ritsumeikan University
(Honorary degree)
Kwansei Gakuin University
(Honorary degree)
Hansung University
(Honorary degree)
University of South Carolina
(Honorary degree)
Occupation Politician
Diplomat
Civil servant
Lawyer Jurist
Author
Activist
Professor
Religion Roman Catholicism
Website Official site

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

He previously served as Minister of Justice from July 6, 1971, until September 8, 1977, in the Cabinets Biesheuvel I, II and Den Uyl. And Deputy Prime Minister from May 11, 1973, until September 8, 1977, in the Cabinet Den Uyl. He resigned as Minister of Justice and Deputy Prime Minister to become the first Christian Democratic Appeal Party leader and the first Parliamentary leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal in the House of Representatives which he served from May 26, 1977, until December 19, 1977, and a Member of the House of Representatives from June 8, 1977 until December 19, 1977. Van Agt became Prime Minister of the Netherlands, leading the Cabinets Van Agt I, II and III. He served as Minister of Foreign Affairs for his Third cabinet.

After his premiership, Van Agt remained in active politics and became the Queen's Commissioner of North Brabant serving from June 1, 1983, until April 22, 1987, when he resigned as Queen's Commissioner because of criticism on his performance and his cooperation with the States-Provincial. After leaving North Brabant, he became a diplomat for the European Communities, serving first as ambassador to Japan from April 1, 1987, until April 1, 1989, when he became the ambassador to the United States until April 1, 1995.[1]

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Andreas Antonius Maria van Agt was born on February 2, 1931, in Geldrop in the Netherlands province of North Brabant. 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. In 2012 he joined the Advisory Board of the International Museum for Family History.

Dries van Agt as Prime Minister of the Netherlands 1978.
Dries van Agt and Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte in 2011.

Politics[edit]

Minister and Deputy Prime Minister[edit]

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 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 CHU, KVP and ARP, which first ran in 1977 with a united list (the merger followed in 1980). With Van Agt as top candidate, the CDA 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 PvdA obtained their largest amount of seats, so a second Den Uyl coalition looked likely. However, the tension between the KVP and the Labour Party in the last reign, combined with the fact that a coalition between CDA and VVD was possible, the talks failed after a period of seven months. Eventually Van Agt negotiated a deal with Hans Wiegel, leader of the VVD. From December 19, 1977 to September 11, 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]

In 1981, the CDA, VVD and PvdA lost parliamentary seats, so a continuation of a CDA-VVD coalition was not possible. Van Agt, leader of the CDA, was forced to go in coalition with the PvdA. 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 wored 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 in 1987 after a short illness, 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 CDA and D66, in the Cabinet Van Agt III. For replacing the six Labour ministers, five new CDA and D66 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 CDA 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]

Diplomat[edit]

Dries van Agt served as Ambassador of the European Community to Japan from 1987 to 1989 and to the United States from 1989 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.[2]

CAWA[edit]

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.

Israel[edit]

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.[3] 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.[4][5] He has accused Israel of "state terrorism" and turning the Palestinian Authority territories into "bantustans".[6]

Personal[edit]

Van Agt is known for his use of archaic language and complicated phrasing, as well as for his love for cycling.

Decorations[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ (Dutch) Dries van Agt (1931) Absolutefacts.nl
  2. ^ 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
  3. ^ "Former Dutch PM champions Palestinian cause", Radio Netherlands Worldwide (10 December 2009).
  4. ^ (Dutch) "De bekering van Dries van Agt", HP|DE TIJD, 29 September 2006
  5. ^ (Dutch) "'Ik kan het wel uitschreeuwen', interview oud-premier Dries van Agt, NRC Handelsblad, 22 augustus 2009
  6. ^ Cnaan Liphshiz, 'Dutch Jimmy Carter' accuses Israel of terrorism in new book Haaretz (27-06-2008).

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Position created
Party leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal
1976-1982
Succeeded by
Ruud Lubbers
Preceded by
Position created
Parliamentary leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal
in the House of Representatives

1977
Succeeded by
Wim Aantjes
Government offices
Preceded by
Carel Polak
Minister of Justice
1971-1977
Succeeded by
Wilhelm Friedrich de Gaay Fortman
Preceded by
Joop den Uyl
Minister of General Affairs
1977-1982
Succeeded by
Ruud Lubbers
Preceded by
Max van der Stoel
Minister of Foreign Affairs
1982
Succeeded by
Hans van den Broek
Political offices
Preceded by
Roelof Nelissen
Molly Geertsema
Deputy Prime Minister of the Netherlands
1973-1977
Succeeded by
Wilhelm Friedrich de Gaay Fortman
Preceded by
Joop den Uyl
Prime Minister of the Netherlands
1977-1982
Succeeded by
Ruud Lubbers
Preceded by
Jan Dirk van der Harten
Queen's Commissioner of North Brabant
1983-1987
Succeeded by
Frank Houben