Foreign ministry welcomes new ministers Zijlstra and Kaag

On Thursday afternoon, Minister of Foreign Affairs Halbe Zijlstra and Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag were sworn in as members of the third government led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte. At the official hand-over, the foreign ministry’s Secretary-General, Yoka Brandt, offered both ministers a warm welcome.

Halbe Zijlstra succeeds Bert Koenders as foreign minister. He will have responsibility for Dutch foreign policy – which includes European affairs and international cultural policy – and will preside over the ministry as a whole. Mr Zijlstra was the leader of the parliamentary party of the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD). Prior to that he served in the first Rutte government as State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science.

Sigrid Kaag was appointed UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon in December 2014. She also headed the disarmament mission to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons programme. Ms Kaag succeeds Lilianne Ploumen as Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, a post that includes responsibility for the Netherlands’ international environmental and climate policy. Ms Ploumen has joined the House of Representatives, where she serves as an MP for the Labour Party (PvdA).