Short statement by His Majesty King Willem-Alexander after the talk with President Sergio Mattarella at the start of the state visit to Italy, Rome

My wife and I have been looking forward to this state visit to Italy. We thank President Mattarella for his cordial invitation and warm welcome.

This state visit comes at an important moment, 60 years after the signing of the Treaty of Rome. Our countries were founding members of the European Union. Now, two generations later, the need to work together is greater than ever.

Italy is crucial to Europe’s stability, strength and resilience. We’re working with you to bolster European self-confidence. The Netherlands is well aware that great demands are currently being placed on Italy. The gravity of the migration issue is felt especially keenly in this country. Tomorrow, in Sicily, we will hear more about this.

Italy is also a big player in the global economy. It has a huge amount to offer. All Dutch people know about Italian craftsmanship and Italy’s tradition of outstanding design, to name but two examples. An economically strong Europe needs an economically strong Italy and vice versa. The Netherlands cherishes our close economic ties and sees a great many shared opportunities to expand them. That’s why we’re accompanied on this visit by a big Dutch trade delegation.

During this state visit many subjects will be discussed that illustrate how close our bond is. Together we work to promote security, both at home and internationally. We stand shoulder to shoulder in efforts to foster human rights, and we are sharing a term on the UN Security Council. We are jointly exploring new opportunities for business, and thus creating new jobs. We are designing and innovating together. We share a love of the arts and culture. We even enjoy a friendly rivalry in the sporting arena – with the occasional Dutch victory on Italian soil! Like Tom Dumoulin winning the maglia rosa in the Giro d’Italia.

In short, the Netherlands feels fortunate in having such close ties with Italy. Mr President, your warm welcome and your words show that you, too, greatly value our bond of friendship. This is only the beginning of our state visit, but I’d like to thank you already for that. Grazie di cuore!