The defence policy of the Netherlands and Belgium has changed substantially following the end of the cold war. Both countries suspended conscription early on and actively participated in many (UN) peacekeeping missions. Both countries also experienced traumatic events that influenced their defence policy: in Ruanda for the Belgians in 1994 and in Bosnia (Srebrenica) for the Dutch (1995). Drastic budget cuts and the integration of the new, but small, professional armies within new NATO and EU defence structures (CSDP and NRF) are also themes with which both countries struggled. Both countries embraced pooling and sharing and cultivated European defence cooperation, especially within Benelux but also with Germany, the UK, and increasingly with other partners. Simultaneously they also attached much value to their ties with the USA. The Dutch furthermore attach great importance to the development of the international legal order and the safeguarding of the flow of trade by sea.
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