Address by His Majesty the King at the state banquet during the State Visit by President Mauricio Macri of Argentina, 27 March 2017
We are delighted to have you as our guests this evening. This is the first ever state visit by an Argentinian president to the Netherlands. You have honoured the invitation we extended in 2006, and we are very pleased to welcome you.
This visit will give you a chance to gain a personal impression of our country. I am lucky enough to be quite familiar with your country already. Over the years I have seen a great deal of Argentina, from the Pampas to Perito Moreno. From Buenos Aires to Bariloche. Words simply cannot describe Argentina's many riches.
Your country boasts a wide range of climates, landscapes and cultures. Anyone who explores Argentina soon feels like a gaucho in its vast open spaces. They feel like the hero Martín Fierro in the famous poem by José Hernández:
Mi gloria es vivir tan libre,
Como el pájaro del cielo.
Argentina is a country that has always welcomed people from Europe and other parts of the world with open arms. A country that believes in the importance of ambition and development. I love Argentina's hospitality. I love the asado, where you will often find me behind the parrilla. I love the creativity and ingenuity of the Argentinian people, which have been a source of strength to them in difficult times. Argentina is a vibrant, passionate country. And the country, of course, that gave me the most precious of gifts: my wife, our Dutch Queen.
Through her, the Netherlands has got to know Argentina better and to appreciate its culture even more. In fact, we were delighted to discover that the Netherlands has the best bandoneon player outside Argentina: Carel Kraayenhof, who played at our wedding.
The unsuspecting Dutch visitor to Argentina quickly learns that, in some things, Argentinians are more passionate than anyone. We Dutch are truly mad about sport, but even we have to admire the Argentinians' almost-mystical devotion to football and other sports!
Even so, our countries make excellent rivals in the sporting arena, as shown by our women hockey stars, for example. Since 2002, the women in orange and Las Leonas have been taking turns as world champions. And if the Netherlands and Argentina ever meet again in a football World Cup final, I hope we'll be able to redress that balance too!
Mr President, the first item on your programme this morning, after laying a wreath at our National Monument, was a visit to the Anne Frank House. For several years now the museum has been working with el Centro Ana Frank Argentina. They consider it their mission to make young people aware of the fundamental importance of freedom and justice. It's a mission that never loses its relevance.
We all carry our history with us, each in our own way. So many people around the world still feel the scars inflicted in times of terror and dictatorship. For Argentina, those times are not so very long ago. Only a generation has passed since thousands were subjected to persecution and violence, their human rights trampled underfoot. A clear lesson was learned from that dark time: nunca más.
In order to move forward together, it's important to acknowledge the past and come to terms with it. Those who work to foster that process deserve our highest respect.
Your country has not been blessed with tranquil times in recent decades. Argentina has been hit several times by severe economic storms which have put enormous pressure on its people. But the Argentines never lost hope in those turbulent years. It takes sacrifice and hard work to get back on the right track.
Mr President, you know how hard that challenge is. How much patience and resolve is needed. You want to give the economy stronger foundations and look to the future. Since you took office in 2015 you have led extensive reforms. It will take time before people feel the benefits in their daily lives. We are only too aware of the demands this is placing on the Argentinian people.
Your domestic priorities relate closely to your vision of the world at large. You have led your country back to the heart of the international community.
The Netherlands welcomes the return of a self-assured Argentina to the world stage and we look forward to seeing an ever-stronger Argentinian presence wherever international cooperation is needed. Next year offers an outstanding opportunity in that regard, as you assume the Presidency of the G20.
In a world that seems to be growing more and more unstable, today's Argentina can be a vital unifying force. You are seeking closer cooperation not only on your own continent, but also on the other side of the ocean, with Europe and the Netherlands. That outlook is in keeping with the many ambitions we share.
The economic ties between our countries go back a long way. Several Dutch companies have been in Argentina for over a hundred years. Today you've talked about how to boost our cooperation in areas such as energy, water management and agriculture. Tomorrow you will visit the Port of Rotterdam, and you'll be focusing on the great potential of our maritime and logistical partnerships.
As you make your way across the Dutch landscape, be sure to look out the window. The cows you see grazing in the fields are almost identical to those which now graze on the Pampas and originally came from here: the Holando-Argentino. They're strong, highly productive and at home in any climate!
I can't think of a better metaphor to describe our cooperation.
And now I'd like to ask you all to raise your glasses.
To your good health, Mr President and Ms Awada.
And to the abiding friendship between la República Argentina and the Kingdom of the Netherlands.