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Dutchman praised for MH17 crash handling in race for top EU job

Published on Sep 3, 2014 4:55 AM

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Frans Timmermans, the Netherlands' nominee to join the European Commission, is an experienced Brussels hand who represents his country's last best hope of securing a top job in the European Union's executive.

The Dutch foreign minister and career diplomat, who was entered as a last-minute candidate over eurogroup chair Jeroen Dijsselbloem, is a staunch pro-European and a talented linguist even by the standards of the famously polylingual Dutch.

The most popular Dutch politician, he served as a junior officer at the Dutch embassy in Moscow and has worked at the European Commision before, serving on the private staff of a previous Dutch commissioner during the 1990s. He speaks virtually accentless English, good French and fluent Russian, which he learned as part of compulsory military service as a young man, when he was trained as an interrogator of Russian prisoners of war.

"He's a veteran diplomat with an enormous track record, a Russia expert and someone who is highly valued by his staff,"said Louise van Schaik of Clingendael, the Netherlands Institute of International Relations.

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