Netherlands will accept Saakashvili if he comes
Netherlands will accept Saakashvili if he comes

The Netherlands will accept former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili if he decides to leave Ukraine, the Dutch foreign minister said Friday after reports the firebrand politician may move to the country.

Dutch minister Halbe Zijlstra’s comments come after several reports, including by the NOS public broadcaster, said Saakashvili has applied to travel to The Netherlands and that his request has been approved. “He is married to a Dutch woman and if he applies for a passport it is possible under Dutch law,” Zijlstra told journalists in The Hague, where he attended a meeting with visiting UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “We’ll see how this moves forward,” Zijlstra said, as reported by AFP.

Saakashvili, 49, is wanted by authorities in Georgia on charges of abuse in office — which he denies — and after entering Ukrainian politics he was stripped of his passport there earlier this year over a falling out with Kiev.

He is married to Sandra Roelofs, 48, who hails from the city of Terneuzen in southwest Netherlands and the couple has two sons, the NOS reported.

Dutch officials told AFP that “the lawyer of Mr Saakashvili has asked the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) about the possibility of a family reunification with his Dutch wife… in The Netherlands.”

The IND “has determined that an MVV (provisional residence permit) can be issued to Mr Saakashvili,” Dutch justice ministry spokeswoman Karin Donk added, but declined to answer further questions as it “concerned an individual case”.

Saakashvili was arrested earlier this month in Kiev, accused of trying to stage a Russia-sponsored coup, but a court released him for the duration of the probe. He told journalists after a court hearing that he planned to continue his political activities seeking a transfer of power in the country, and accusing the Ukrainian authorities of corruption.

Saakashvili also led several hundred protesters as they stormed Kiev’s performing arts centre on Sunday. He is under investigation for alleged cooperation with Russia-linked “criminal groups” and has denounced his prosecution as an attempt to remove him from public activities.