Speech by Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the lunch meeting with President Ram Nath Kovind of India

Speech by Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the lunch meeting with President Ram Nath Kovind of India, The Hague 6 April 2022.

Mr President,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I’m honoured to welcome you to the Netherlands, in the year that we celebrate 75 years of diplomatic relations and friendship between our countries.
What a milestone!
India and the Netherlands may be very different in size, geography and culture, but one thing firmly unites us: we are both free and democratic countries.
That’s something we should cherish.
Especially now, with a bitter and unjust war raging in Ukraine.
Russia’s aggression has not only put the future of Ukraine and European security at stake. It has also threatened the entire world order and the international rule of law.
So now, more than at any point since the end of the Second World War, it’s crucial that our countries work together to build a better future for our peoples.
A future that is peaceful, prosperous, and promising for all, especially the young.

As you said in your inaugural address, Mr President: ‘In a globalised world, our responsibilities are also global.’
And that means international cooperation is the only way forward.
India and the Netherlands share a long history of exchanging goods, talent and ideas.
Today our partnership is strong and vibrant.
Last year, for example, some three thousand Indian students came to the Netherlands.
And the members of the large Indian community in our country are an asset to Dutch society.
Some of them are here with us today – welcome to you all.
The Netherlands is the third-biggest source of foreign direct investment in India.
And conversely, we are now the second-largest destination for Indian investment in Europe.
And if the world’s number-three start-up nation – India – joins hands with the world’s number three for Doing Digital Business – the Netherlands – I believe there’s a lot to be gained.

Our countries are both attractive and ambitious start-up destinations.
So it makes sense that the focus of this government lunch is the Indian and Dutch start-up communities.
They represent our young people.
They hold the future in their hands.
They will have to come up with all the innovative solutions we so desperately need in fields like climate action, sustainability, healthcare and cybersecurity.

One of the most promising elements of our partnership is our common ‘WAH! Agenda’, which has taken shape in the last few years.
It’s all about working together on long-term innovation in the fields of water, agriculture and healthcare.
That’s what ‘WAH’ stands for.
But of course, wah also means ‘awesome’ in Hindi, which I think is very fitting. 
Because the WAH! Agenda, like the working relationship between India and the Netherlands, is awesome.

So, Mr President, let me propose a toast.
To you and your visit to our country.
To the bonds of knowledge, talent and friendship between the people of India and the Netherlands.
And to our young people. 
May they shape a future that is indeed peaceful, prosperous, and promising.