Dutch Foreign Minister Halbe Zijlstra has resigned, a day after he admitted lying about overhearing Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. In 2016 Zijlstra alleged Putin had in 2006 expressed ambitions to create a “Greater Russia.”
The official admitted that his credibility had been damaged by the ongoing scandal to such an extent that his position had become untenable.
Halbe Zijlstra announced his resignation in an emotional speech to the House of Representatives. Zijlstra described the “Greater Russia” affair as the “biggest mistake” in his political career, adding that the country deserves a Foreign Minister who is beyond reproach.
Zijlstra’s resignation comes the day before the official’s scheduled visit to Russia, where he was expected to meet his counterpart Sergey Lavrov. It was to be the Dutch official’s very first visit to Russia. Following Zijlstra’s resignation the visit was officially cancelled, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
The “Greater Russia” scandal has prematurely finished Zijlstra’s term as the Foreign Minister of the Netherlands, as he assumed the post only back in October 2017.