Ex-Dutch PM Ruud Lubbers dies at 78

February 15, 2018

The Netherlands former Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers has died at his home. He was 78.

Ruud Lubbers, prime minister of the Netherlands from 1982 to 1994, has died at the age of 78, the Dutch government says.

Lubbers passed away in Rotterdam with his family at his side, the government statement said on Wednesday.

A Christian Democrat, Lubbers was the Netherlands' longest-serving prime minister, leaving an indelible mark on Dutch politics during his time in office.

He later served as the UN's high commissioner for refugees from 2001 to 2005.

"The Netherlands has lost a statesman of great stature," Prime Minister Mark Rutte was quoted as saying by the ANP news agency.

He praised Lubbers for his commitment to Europe.

Lubbers' political career began when he was appointed as the economy minister in 1971.

As prime minister, he was known for his pragmatic "no nonsense" politics, forming governments with the right-wing liberals as well as the social democrats.

But his critics were unimpressed by his openness to compromise and often accused him of mincing his words.

He was broadly respected in his role at the UN refugee agency. However, Lubbers was forced to step down as high commissioner for refugees amid sexual harassment allegations.

Following the scandal, and still respected by many Dutch politicians, Lubbers returned to the Netherlands to assist in coalition talks in 2006 and again in 2010.

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