Speech by King Willem-Alexander at the reception at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, United States

Mayor Dickens, Ladies and gentlemen,

We’re grateful that you’ve joined us this evening to reaffirm the friendship between the state of Georgia and the Kingdom of the Netherlands. My wife and I are delighted to be here in Atlanta, one of the most dynamic cities in the United States.

Across Europe, Atlanta is famous for having the world’s busiest airport. Millions of passengers pass through it. 
But anyone who truly wants to get to know the city needs to leave the airport and head out to discover its magic. Just as we have done today.

What’s especially striking is the way this city cherishes its history, passing it on to new generations. We saw that this morning at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center. We saw it at the BeltLine, where you can follow the tracks of a former railroad, now transformed into a unique public space. 

And of course we could see it at the Patchwerk Recording Studios, where hip hop bloomed in the 1980s and 90s. After all, everyone knows that if you want real hip hop, you have to come to Atlanta.

For us it feels good to be able to offer Atlanta something in return, from a cultural perspective. No rap, but Rembrandt – right here at the High Museum of Art. If you haven’t yet seen the exhibition ‘Dutch Art in a Global Age’, I can wholeheartedly recommend it.

The exhibition revisits the seventeenth century, when Dutch ships sailed the seven seas. A time in which the arts and the economy were flourishing like never before. But also a time in which colonial exploitation was inflicting deep wounds. That, too, is a part of our story.

It is a mark of a free and open society that you learn from the past and put all your energies into building a better future. And this is the main focus of our visit. Because you can’t build a better future on your own. In that respect, Georgia is a fantastic partner.
The Netherlands is already Georgia’s fifth-biggest foreign investor. Our economic ties account for 32,000 jobs here in the Peach State. This afternoon we witnessed the start of further growth, when we opened NewCold’s automated cold chain facility in McDonough.

But our partnership extends well beyond the economy. We also complement each other perfectly when it comes to healthcare research. We saw that today at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
We’re also united by themes like sustainability and climate action. And I’ve already touched on art and culture.

I hope that our visit will help strengthen those ties even more. And if there’s one thing I hope you will remember, it’s this: the Kingdom of the Netherlands is much closer than you think. You don’t need to cross the Atlantic. Three autonomous countries within our Kingdom are actually quite close by, in the Caribbean: St Maarten, Curaçao and Aruba. And I’m proud that they are represented here this evening in Atlanta.
The Queen and I look forward to meeting a number of you shortly. And to the next stage of our journey, when we visit Savannah tomorrow. 

I hope that this evening you will have the opportunity to deepen existing friendships and build new ones too. I can assure you that we will keep Georgia on our minds!

Thank you.