Foreign relations

   The Netherlands has a long tradition of neu trality. Self-interest dictated a friendly policy toward the Great Powers during the 17th century, especially after the end of the Revolt against Spain within the framework of the Westphalian peace treaty (1648). Yet, the colonial expansion of Great Britain and the territorial claims of France (under Louis XIV) brought the Netherlands into war several times even in the 18th century. The policy of neutrality was more suc cessful during the 19th century. In 1899, the first International Peace Conference was held in The Hague, where in 1913 the Peace Palace (Vredespaleis), an initiative of Andrew Carnegie, was inaugurated. The policy of neutrality nearly broke down under the pressure of the bel ligerent powers during World WarI. During World WarII, Dutch tra ditional policy was ignored by Nazi Germany, which occupied the country. After the war, Dutch foreign policy was aligned more closely on European interests and organizations, with broader cooperation among Western countries through the North Atlantic Treaty Organiza tion (NATO). Its foreign policy was also increasingly influenced by membership in the European Union (EU).

Historical Dictionary of the Netherlands. . 2012.

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