Speech by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Stef Blok, on the occasion of the GES dinner in The Hague on 3 June 2019.

Speech by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Stef Blok, on the occasion of the GES dinner in The Hague on 3 June 2019.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to the most beautiful room in the Mauritshuis: The Golden Room. Since its renovation after a devastating fire in 1704 it has served as a venue to welcome kings, presidents and other dignitaries – people like you.

I am delighted to have you here today as our guests, at the start of GES 2019. Enjoying food, company and the beautiful paintings by the Venetian artist Pellegrini.

After this dinner, there will be opportunity to view some of the artworks of the Dutch Masters in the other rooms, for example:

-    The Girl with a Pearl Earring, by Johannes Vermeer;
-    Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius – which recently inspired a bestselling novel by Donna Tartt;
-    And, of course various, paintings by Rembrandt, known for his great contrast between light and dark.

These works conjure up a long-gone era.
And yet, there are many parallels with the age we live in now.

Because, in their day, the Dutch Masters were great innovators.
They combined a great dedication to quality with a pragmatic approach – including the ability to attract private investment in their art. Working in what we would today call ‘public-private partnerships’.

It was this spirit that enabled them to create their awe-inspiring art – marvels of colour, contrast and light that now draw visitors from all over the world – many from the United States.

These artists were the future, then.

And, as the tagline for this edition of the GES puts it –
we are ‘the future now’.

It is their innovative spirit that continues to thrive in the Netherlands today.

It is this spirit that also brought the GES here - that brought all of you here.

It forms the perfect basis for this ‘trade mission in reverse’.
Building on another historic element  – the strong bilateral ties between the Netherlands and the United States.

Two countries that have been close friends for over 400 years  – ever since in 1609 a Dutch Ship called The Half Moon landed on the shores of what now is Manhattan.

In the centuries that followed, we stood side by side on many occasions, from when my country was the first nation to loan money to a young America in 1782, to becoming important and ever growing investors in each other’s economies. And allies in the toughest times in both our histories.

A friendship that is most evident when it comes to our shared entrepreneurial and commercial drive. And to our safety and security.

Last Sunday, I was present at the Netherlands American Cemetery in Margraten, in Limburg. To commemorate all the fallen heroes who are buried there, and whose names are written there.

It really is moving. Seeing all those 8,301 graves of young American soldiers...Their sacrifice meant the victory of freedom over oppression.

And this historic bond still inspires our deep connection today.

Transatlantic cooperation has brought peace and prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic.

Based on strong shared values, such as freedom, democracy, peace and stability, human rights, and the rule of law. Values that need protecting now more than ever. In this changing global environment where things are far from certain.

That’s another reason why I’m very pleased to welcome all of you here, to this special place, to celebrate the ninth edition of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit.

A summit that is not about ‘business as usual’. But about trade that adds sustainable value to our common future – something my colleague, Sigrid Kaag, will address in a moment.

Before I now give the floor to our American co-host, the honorable Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, let me once again thank you all.

The world needs all of us, and all of you.
So thank you for being here. For your innovation, investment and entrepreneurship.
Please join me in raising our glasses to a successful GES!

Thank you.

Ministry responsible