Speech by King Willem-Alexander at the dinner for the Diplomatic Corps at the Royal Palace in Amsterdam
Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome to the Royal Palace in Amsterdam. The Queen and I are delighted to have you as our guests this evening.
This annual dinner is one of the ways in which we show our appreciation for you, the members of the Diplomatic Corps. Our ties with you are essential to the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
We believe in openness and in cooperation. If people don’t know each other and not listen to each other’s stories, the world soon becomes a threatening and desolate place.
Every day you are engaged in cultivating understanding for your country’s interests. But you also seek out shared ideals and practical connections. That work deserves all the support we can give, and my wife and I are happy to do our part.
We deeply empathise with the concerns that weigh on many of you. I’m thinking, for example, of the humanitarian crisis in the Sahel region, especially Sudan and neighbouring countries. Millions of people are fleeing the violence, living in fear and suffering from hunger.
The international community is lending a helping hand, but it’s not enough to alleviate the suffering. To do that, it’s imperative that those responsible for the aggression come to their senses and seek a path to reconciliation.
I’m also thinking of the people of Ukraine. A free and peaceful country that was invaded in defiance of every principle of international law. Anyone who yields to this kind of cynical violence is putting their credibility on the line. Our support for the Ukrainian people remains unwavering.
I could mention many other crises. But this evening I’d like to emphasise the other side as well.
When the pressure of a crisis rises and is felt by everyone, it also fosters a sense of urgency. And then we often find that we are capable of acting in unison. Perhaps too late, perhaps too slowly and too hesitantly. But we can overcome adversity together.
One example is the way in which the COVID-19 pandemic was finally brought under control. But I’m also thinking of the High Seas Treaty that was agreed earlier this year. A global agreement to protect and restore marine life.
I hope that we can also find the ability to bring momentum to the fight against climate change. The rapid rise of sustainable energy sources is encouraging.
Please allow me this small expression of national pride: the Netherlands is second only to Australia in its per capita generation of solar energy. Anyone who knows how changeable the weather is we have in this country may find that hard to believe. But it’s true.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this evening made a small contribution to solutions?
To help bring that about, we invited a special group of people to join us: Scientists and scholars in fields that are of great international importance. Climate, health, water, agriculture, nature and economics, but also law and philosophy.
And artificial intelligence, a field of science that has a far-reaching impact on our lives and that presents risks and ethical dilemmas, as well as opportunities.
Scientists and scholars bear a heavy responsibility. They help us to better understand ourselves and the world around us. And they are our guides on the way to a better future. But they must be allowed to do their work in freedom and safety! For that reason, this evening is also a tribute to academic freedom and independence of critical minds worldwide!
So, there are plenty of inspiring topics for you to talk about with your table companions.
My wife and I wish you all great success in your important work. We hope that your efforts will be both productive and unifying.
And now may I ask you all to raise your glasses?
To understanding among nations.
And to our cooperation!