Speech by King Willem-Alexander at government lunch during the state visit to Norway
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Queen and I are delighted to have this opportunity, on the second day of our state visit, to get better acquainted with the Norwegian government.
Prime Minister, you and your colleagues began your important work only four weeks ago.
And I wish you every success.
In a democracy, elections and the formation of a new government are the perfect moment to explore new directions. And yet, some things remain the same. Of course, the choices to be made are entirely up to you. But I truly hope that one thing that won’t change is the excellent relationship between Norway and the Netherlands.
We attach enormous importance to our partnership with Norway. A partnership that is based on common interests, but above all on kinship, friendship and trust.
Our state visit is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate that special relationship and together explore how we can join forces even more.
We are therefore grateful for the openness we’ve encountered here. And not only among representatives of the government, but also among the Norwegian people.
When you are friends, it is easier to talk about difficult subjects. We saw that this morning, at the Deichman Library.
There were intense discussions on a topic that concerns us all: how to preserve a free and open society when that freedom can be abused to make threats and spread hate.
This is a fundamental issue. Unfortunately, both Norway and the Netherlands have experience of intolerance, radicalisation and violence. Together, we champion security, human rights and freedom of expression around the world. But anyone who wishes to make their voice heard at international level must also be brave enough to acknowledge the harsh reality of problems at home.
It’s extremely valuable for us to be able to discuss these issues with you.
The Netherlands fully supports Norway’s work in the UN Human Rights Council. We also support your conviction that the fight for human rights and sustainable development must go beyond words alone. What counts is action, as you have shown. It’s great that Norway is leading efforts to make vaccines available worldwide. This is so important in the fight against COVID-19. Not to mention in combating future pandemics.
These efforts perfectly reflect the image that Dutch people have of Norway. A country that embodies the concept of international solidarity and leads by example. We cherish our partnership, including as allies within NATO.
Another issue that has both our countries’ attention is the need to transform our economies so that our children and grandchildren can look forward to a safe and secure future. There is so much common ground here, and so many opportunities for us to work together!
Our countries are North Sea neighbours, and it’s up to us, together, to ensure the sustainable use of its resources. Mother Nature has blessed Norway – and the Netherlands – with a rich store of fossil deposits. These have provided unparalleled development and prosperity. That is why we now have a special responsibility to make the transition to sustainability.
Climate change is already having terrible consequences for people in Northwestern Europe and around the world.
Countries like Norway and the Netherlands urgently need to take the lead in developing solutions. We are delighted that this theme has a prominent place in our state visit’s programme. We’re exploring opportunities, for example, to repurpose North Sea oil and gas infrastructure for renewable energy applications.
During our visit we are also meeting many young Norwegians who are helping to pave the way to a circular economy, whether as students, researchers or business leaders. It’s incredibly inspiring to hear their stories.
Norwegians are not known for grandiosity or pretension. In this country, equality is a passion. Everyone’s input and know-how are welcome.
When Norwegians speak, it’s a good idea to listen, because they’re probably going to say something worth hearing.
In a world where the loudest voices get all the attention, Norway’s calm voice of reason is a breath of fresh air.
The Netherlands is proud to be your partner in so many areas, whether political, economical or cultural.
This visit is a testimony to our excellent relations and an expression of our desire to collaborate even more closely. Together, we can go further.
Your Majesty, Prime Minister. I’d now like to raise a glass with you.
To the friendship between Norway and the Netherlands.