Toespraak van Koning Willem-Alexander bij het galadiner voor het Corps Diplomatique, Koninklijk Paleis Amsterdam
De toespraak is uitgesproken in het Engels.
Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
The Queen and I are delighted to welcome you to the Royal Palace in Amsterdam. We’ve had to wait for this moment for more than three years. Three years in which it simply wasn’t possible hold a dinner like this one.
That was a break in a tradition that we hold dear: our yearly gathering with you.
So it’s great to be able to pick up where we left off.
For each of you, these past few years have been a turbulent period, a time in which you felt deep concern for the people in your own countries. The COVID-19 pandemic has left a trail of destruction around the world. Many of you have also been affected personally. The pandemic has taken a heavy toll in terms of human life and loss of health, and the economic and social impact was equally devastating.
People aren’t made for social distancing.
I can only imagine the effect this had on your work. It can’t have been easy to do your job as diplomats when you were confined to digital screens with people the size of stamps.
During the pandemic, it became clear that both your work and mine should be considered ‘contact-based professions’…
Even though COVID-19 isn’t over, we can now meet in person again, I’m glad to say.
That’s important, because the geopolitical situation is grim.
Four months ago, the free and democratic nation of Ukraine was brutally attacked by its neighbour.
There is no justification whatsoever for this senseless aggression. Our hearts go out to the thousands of victims and their loved ones, and to the many who have lost everything – their homes, their companies, their income, their communities, their cultural treasures, their cities and villages.
We greatly admire the courage of the Ukrainian people: civilians, soldiers and government officials alike.
They hold a mirror up to us. They show us that freedom has a price and demands sacrifice.
Although we are all deeply affected by what’s happening in Ukraine, this is not the only matter of concern for the international community.
Over the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to talk to many of you at length following the presentation of your credentials. I’m grateful for the insights I’ve gained from our discussions.
In many countries, communities are burdened by conflict, poverty, hunger and environmental damage caused by climate change. Their struggle to survive must not be forgotten. Like the people of Ukraine, they too deserve our attention and support.
It is essential for their stories to be told. You play a crucial role in that.
Telling stories is useless, however, if no-one is listening. That is another reason the world needs diplomats. People who try to find common ground.
Even with those whose perspectives are very different from their own.
Anyone who dares to look beyond their personal views will see that the world is larger than their own reality. We’re grateful that diplomats continuously forge new corridors of contact, even where the terrain is difficult to navigate.
The Kingdom of the Netherlands is eager to help you do that. This evening is an example of that.
With us here this evening are many public administrators and representatives of the Dutch government. They form the link between the national and international domains. I hope that you will take this opportunity to strengthen your existing relationships and establish new ones.
I wish you every success in your essential work.
May I now ask you all to raise your glasses.
To the international community!