Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is a supporter of international organizations such as the European Union. But he also thinks President Trump has some legitimate complaints about multilateralism — and he apparently has little patience for some of Trump’s Dutch critics.
“It pisses me off when I hear white-wine-sipping Amsterdam elites say that Trump is so wrong,” Rutte said Sunday in an interview on Buitenhof, a Dutch TV program.
“In NATO, lots of things are not good. In the [World Trade Organization,] lots of things are not good. In the European Union, lots of things are not good,” he said. “So let’s make use of the presence of someone like Trump, who sometimes rightly says, ‘Guys, this is not good.’ ”
Rutte singled out E.U. policy as an area where there is not enough coordination between groups. “Eastern Europe does nothing at all and leaves it to the Netherlands and Germany to decide,” he said.
Rutte also pushed back on talk that he might be the next president of the European Council, suggesting that he had never been asked. The Dutch prime minister went on to say that upcoming European Parliament elections, in which the far right may make big gains, are not that important, especially given that turnout is “so low.” (E.U. data shows that voter turnout for the last election, held in 2014, was 42.6 percent).
Rutte’s comments drew criticism from some Dutch citizens, especially those based in Amsterdam. Zeeger Ernsting, a member of the city council for the GroenLinks party, tweeted a picture of Rutte sharing a glass of white wine with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trump is not popular in the Netherlands — a recent Pew Research Center poll found that only 19 percent of the Dutch had confidence that the American leader will do the right thing when it comes to foreign affairs. Rutte has not been afraid to push back on Trump personally, correcting the U.S. president in front of reporters in the White House in July.
However, the Dutch prime minister has come under political pressure from the Dutch right, including firebrand anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders. In office as prime minister since 2010, Rutte is the leader of the center-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), which leads the government.
Rutte’s disagreement with Amsterdam isn’t totally new. He has previously criticized the city, the largest in the country and famously liberal, as being “lost to the left.”
The VVD’s leader in Amsterdam, Eric van der Burg, seemed to offer support for Rutte’s criticism of his city on Sunday, writing on Twitter that he didn’t drink white wine and suggesting that beer and bitterballen (a type of croquette) were the food and drink of choice for Amsterdam’s conservatives.
Amar Nadhir contributed to this report.