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Andreas Antonius Maria "Dries" van Agt (born February 2, 1931) is a retired Dutchmarker politician of the Christian Democratic Appeal party who served as Prime Minister of the Netherlands from December 19, 1977 until November 4, 1982.


Early life

Dries van Agt was born in 1931 in Geldropmarker (North Brabantmarker). After receiving his diploma Gymnasium-A at the Augustinianummarker he studied at the Catholic University of Nijmegenmarker, where he received his Doctorate in Law in 1955. After graduating, he practiced law in Eindhoven until 1957, after which he worked in the office of legal and business affairs of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries until 1962. From 1962 to 1968, he worked for the Ministry of Justice.


From 1968 to 1971, Van Agt was Professor of Criminal Law at the Catholic University of Nijmegen. From 1971 to 1973, he was Minister of Justice in the government of Barend Biesheuvel. He caused outrage when he tried to pardon the last three Nazi war criminals still in Dutch prisons in 1972. From 1973 to 1977 he was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice in the government of Joop den Uyl.

From December 1977 to November 1982 Dries van Agt was Prime Minister of the Netherlands in three successive governments. After the resignation of his government, he remained a member of the Dutch Parliament until 1983, when he was appointed as the Queen's Commissioner of the province North Brabantmarker.

Dries van Agt served as Ambassador of the European Community to Japanmarker from 1987 to 1989 and to the United Statesmarker from 1989 to 1995. From 1995 to 1996, he was a Visiting Professor of International Relations at the University of Kyotomarker.

He is currently Prime Counsellor for the International Forum for Justice and Peace, a foundation under Dutch law, registered at the Chamber of Commerce in Amsterdammarker . Chaired by retired international businessman Ben Smoes, they are currently focused on justice and peace in regard to the Israel/Palestine conflict.

Van Agt is known for his use of archaic language and complicated phrasing, as well as for his love for cycling.

On Arab-West Understanding

Van Agt lectured in May 2006 in Cairo at the invitation of the Egyptian electronic magazine Arab-West Report about great changes in the cultural climate of north-western Europe in the past decades, becoming more hostile to religion, including Islam. Muslims, he argued, need to understand those changes in order to be able to respond better to European critique on Islam and the Muslim world.

On the Middle East and Dutch Involvement in the Iraq War

For some years he has taken an independent opinion regarding the Middle East, resulting in a fierce criticism of the policies undertaken by the government of Israelmarker against the Palestinian.

On 30 March 2007, Van Agt stated on the Dutch radio show Argos that the new Dutch cabinet was 'muzzling' parliament with its decision to block an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Dutch involvement in the Iraq war.

He urged fellow party member and prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende not to stand in the way of debate.


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