René van der Linden

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René van der Linden

Pierre René Hubert Marie van der Linden (born 14 December 1943, Eys) is a Member of the Senate of the Netherlands. He was President of the Dutch Senate from 2009 to 2011, and President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe from 2005 to 2008.

Education[edit]

Economics: international administrative studies at Catholic Economics Faculty in Tilburg, (1966–1970), (now known as Tilburg University)

Career[edit]

Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs with responsibility for European Affairs (1986–1988)

  • Member of the cabinet of European Commissioner Pierre Lardinois (1973–1977) and European Commissioner Henk Vredeling (1977)
  • Civil servant, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries of the Netherlands (1971–1973)
  • Teacher of economics (1969)

Other posts currently held[edit]

Party political posts[edit]

Chairperson of EPP/CD group in the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) (1999–2005) and vice-chairperson (1989–1999) Second vice-chairperson of the Christian Democratic political group, CDA, Second Chamber of the States-General of the Netherlands (1982–1986) Member of the party executive of the CDA Member of the party executive of the former Catholic Popular Party, (KVP), and vice-chairman of the KVP youth section

Other posts previously held[edit]

  • President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (2005–2008)
  • Chairperson of the Netherlands delegation to PACE (2003–2005)
  • Delegated representative of the First Chamber of the States-General of the Netherlands to the Convention on the Future of the European Union
  • Patron of Stichting Lisboa, homeless children in Portugal (1995)
  • Chairman of the advisory committee of the national school of translators and interpreters, Rijkshogeschool Opleiding tolk-vertaler (1990)
  • Adviser to Combined Chambers of Commerce in Limburg (1989 and 1992)
  • Member of Consultative Interparliamentary Benelux Council (1977–1986)
  • Board member of the Netherlands Organisation for international assistance, NOVIB,
  • President of several cultural foundations

Van der Linden was secretary of state of foreign affairs in the Dutch cabinet Lubbers II. He was responsible for the passport fiasco which was caused by ministerial incompetence (Dutch: paspoortaffaire).

Honours and awards[edit]

Dutch honours[edit]

Foreign honours[edit]

Controversies[edit]

Controversial claims about citizenship issues in Baltic Countries[edit]

During a press conference in Tallinn on 19 September 2007, a controversy ensued when Linden accused Estonia of not permitting non-citizen residents to take part in local elections.[2] Former Prime Minister of Estonia Mart Laar attempted to correct him, pointing out that all permanent residents in Estonia have the right to vote (but not to be elected) in local elections. However van der Linden referred to reports of the Amnesty International and other human rights organizations.

In reaction, the Estonian Social Democratic Party issued a statement calling that van der Linden be immediately dismissed from his post. Admitting that Linden's term of office is due to end in late 2007 anyway, the statement declared that he had with his inaccurate comments disqualified himself.[3][4]

On 2 October 2007, speaker of Estonian Parliament, Ene Ergma, sent a strongly worded open letter to van der Linden, asking him to do his homework and "give up spreading erroneous information about Estonia", which "created confusion and bewilderment both in the Estonian public and internationally."[5] In his reply, van der Linden expressed amazement at the content of the letter and the fact that Ene Ergma made accusations public before giving him any right of reply. He also pointed out that Ene Ergma never expressed such views to him during their meeting, which took place less than two weeks before.[6]

Later that month, in a press conference in Lithuania, he claimed that millions of people live without status in the Baltic countries.[7][8] The population of Estonia is roughly 1,342,000, of which roughly 8.5% are without defined citizenship.

Alleged financial interest in Russia[edit]

In August 2007, van der Linden became embroiled in controversy after articles in the Eesti Päevaleht suggested that van der Linden's family had business interests in Russia.[9][10] This is suspected to explain his lack of criticism towards Putin and the Russian government for human rights violations and his pro-Russia and anti-Baltic stand,[11] as well as his stand against relocating the Bronze Soldier of Tallinn from central Tallinn.

After a 3 October 2007 phone call from van der Linden, threatening investigation by French police, Marko Mihkelson, chairman of the Estonian parliament's European Union affairs committee, held a press conference on 8 October 2007 where he presented materials collected from various publicly available Russian media sources in which central topic is van der Linden's role as the head of the supervisory council of a certain Dutch investment company that established the biggest industrial park in Europe in Sobinsk, Russia in late 2006.[12] Subsequently van der Linden denied all accusations and stated that he never had any financial interest in Russia neither is he serving as mentioned chairman.[13] He was called the head of the supervisory board of Noble House Group at the home page of the Dutch investment company Noble House Trading.[14] However, a representative of Noble House Holding told Estonia's ETV, on 7 October 2007, that van der Linden is not a member of the company's supervisory board and that the supervisory board would be appointed only next year.[15]

References[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Peter Schieder
President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
2005–2008
Succeeded by
Lluís Maria De Puig
Preceded by
Yvonne Timmerman-Buck
President of the Senate of the Netherlands
2009-2011
Succeeded by
Fred de Graaf