'Geschiedenis is nu eenmaal altijd politiek.' De studie-Drooglever als symptoom van de moeizame omgang van Nederland met het koloniaal verleden en de complexe relatie met Indonesië. Discussie over Een daad van vrije keuze
Keywords:Decolonisation, Foreign relations
‘History is by definition political’. The Drooglever study as a symptom of the uneasy relationship the Netherlands has with its colonial past and its complex relationship with Indonesia
In December 1999, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, J.J. van Aartsen, complied with a request from parliament for an historical study into the referendum held in 1969 among the Papua population in the former Dutch New Guinea. The outcome of this ‘Act of Free Choice’ was manipulated and resulted in the territory becoming a permanent part of Indonesia, which is what Indonesia had coveted all along. The decision to carry out the study angered the Indonesian government and resulted in a deterioration of the already fragile bilateral relations between both countries.
When Drooglever’s findings were published the Balkenende II (2003-2006) cabinet was confronted with a dilemma: how could it do justice to the study carried out by the historian P. J. Drooglever on the one hand, yet try to repair the political damage to its relations with Indonesia on the other. In the context of the complex Dutch-Indonesian relationship in general this article not only deals with Van Aartsen’s motives for accepting this controversial research, but also explains why Indonesia reacted as it did and outlines how the Balkenende government tried to deal with this thorny issue.
This review is part of the discussion forum 'Een daad van vrije keuze' (P.J. Drooglever).
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