2014-04-04

H.M. Konungens tal vid holländska Kungaparets middag i samband med det officiella besöket till Nederländerna, fredagen den 4 april 2014  

(Det talade ordet gäller)

Your Majesties,
Ministers, Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Queen and I would like to express our gratitude for the warm welcome today. Almost five years have passed since our last visit and it is a great pleasure for us to be back in the Netherlands.

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The commemoration of the 400 years of diplomatic relations between our countries is a confirmation of our close ties through the centuries. It also provides an excellent opportunity to reflect on past achievements as well as on our future relations.

As part of the treaty we exchanged resident ambassadors and, as Your Majesty said, the Netherlands thereby became the first country for Sweden to do so with.

This was no coincidence. The Netherlands was at time in many ways the cultural, commercial and financial centre of Europe. Sweden was an emerging power in need of money. After the peace settlement with the Danes, we needed funds, not least to buy back the fortress of Älvsborg. Amsterdam was the obvious place to seek co-operation with.

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Today our cooperation touches almost every sector of society. The Dutch are the fourth largest tourist group in Sweden and more than 1000 Dutch people move to Sweden each year. Around 6000 Swedes live in the Netherlands and many young Swedes study in Amsterdam, Maastricht or other Dutch cities in the framework of the Erasmus Programme.

The Netherlands and Sweden are close partners within the European Union. We stand up for fundamental values like human rights, rule of law, gender equality and transparency.

Both our countries also have a strong interest in the development of the internal market and in promoting trade and investment both in Europe and globally.

Commerce remains at the heart of our relations and today the bilateral trade amounts to close to 4 billion euros every year. Many Swedish companies, some of them participating in this visit, have established operations in the Netherlands.

Sweden and the Netherlands also stand out when it comes to innovation and competitiveness. Today’s seminar on Innovation and Growth was an important platform for exchanging ideas and learning from each other.

This is imperative in order to remain in the forefront, despite increasing competition from other parts of the world.

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The cultural interaction between our countries is also vast. I’m delighted that Rembrandt’s magnificent painting “The Conspiracy of the Batavians under Claudius Civilis”, from the Swedish National Museum, now can be on display to a broader Dutch audience for the third time. The Queen and I very much look forward to visit the renovated Rijksmuseum tomorrow.

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Let me conclude by saying again how delighted the Queen and I are to be your guests.

The relationship between our families goes way back. Over the years we have met on numerous occasions. Your Majesties paid a highly appreciated visit to Stockholm in October last year.

But, our relationship is also very special. You, King Willem-Alexander, are the godfather of our granddaughter Princess Estelle. Your mother, Princess Beatrix, is the godmother of Crown Princess Victoria and your grandmother, Queen Juliana was my godmother.

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Your Majesties,

I am confident in that the many activities and events that will take place during this very special year will continue to tie the bonds in-between our two countries. And thereby our relationship will continue to deepen and prosper in years to come.

I would like to propose a toast to Your Majesties and to the Dutch people.

Skål !