Speech by Her Majesty the Queen at the state banquet on the occasion of her state visit to Brunei Darussalam

21 januari 2013

Brunei Darussalam, 21 January 2013

Your Majesty,

It gives me great pleasure to be your guest here today, two years after your visit to the Netherlands. Brunei Darussalam is a fascinating country, blessed with an overwhelming natural beauty. The external differences between our two countries could hardly be greater. In our country you see a flat expanse of land with straight ditches and trees often planted in neat rows. Your country has the mysterious rainforest, where new plants and animal species are still being discovered every month. Like a magnificent green temple, the tropical rainforest covers a large proportion of Brunei. These are riches that cannot be expressed in terms of financial value.

The Netherlands is following with great interest and admiration Brunei's efforts to manage the wealth of resources nature has bestowed on it and to preserve these treasures for future generations. In so doing, you have chosen the path of cooperation and sustainable economic development.

Together with Indonesia and Malaysia, Brunei is ensuring that the green 'Heart of Borneo' continues to beat. This is not only a question of nature conservation. Sound water management and better prospects for local communities are just as important. In your endeavours in all these areas you can count on the Netherlands' keen interest and involvement.

The long-standing relationship between Brunei and Shell demonstrates that cooperation and mutual understanding can lead to successful results. For over eighty years Shell has been an important partner of the Brunei government. That cooperation increasingly covers a much broader field than just the production of oil and gas. Diversification of the economy without losing sight of the interests of people, the environment and nature is one of the most important challenges facing your country. To this end, Brunei has developed an ambitious vision for the future: Wawasan twenty thirty five. It is gratifying that Brunei and Shell are continuing to work together in this new phase of development as in the past. That is a clear sign of the quality of their relationship and the great confidence they have in each other.

Cross-border cooperation promotes stability and development and thereby human well-being. ASEAN has made a positive contribution in this respect from the very beginning and thus played a constructive role in the region. The Netherlands welcomes Brunei's active approach within the Association. With you, we wish to work towards the further strengthening of the relations between the European Union and ASEAN.

This year, your country has the special task of holding the ASEAN chairmanship. The Netherlands is looking forward to exploring the opportunities for further cooperation during that period.

The rich culture of Brunei fascinates many people in the Netherlands. Your country has after all so many exceptionally beauftiful things to offer. Nevertheless, cultural exchanges between our two countries remain limited. It is good to see initiatives for more intensive contacts coming from different quarters.

The Brunei Museum and the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam have plans to strengthen their mutual ties. The aim is to increase awareness of the beauty of this country and to deepen understanding between our peoples. That aspiration can only be applauded.

Your Majesty,

We are grateful for the warm welcome you have given us here. I would like to wish you and the people of Brunei a bright future, in the expectation that the friendly ties between our two countries will continue to contribute to that future for many years to come.