Word of welcome by Prime Minister Mark Rutte for Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia of Georgia in The Hague

Prime Minister Gakharia, ladies and gentlemen,

A very warm welcome to the Netherlands.
And welcome to my home town, The Hague.
Your visit can only be described as historic.
History graduates like Prime Minister Gakharia and me are always cautious about using the term 'historic'.
But in this case I think it's justified.
After all, this is the first ever bilateral visit of a Georgian prime minister to the Netherlands.
And it's your first bilateral visit as prime minister to an EU member state.
So as you can imagine, we are honoured to receive you here today.

I see your visit as confirmation that the relations between our two countries are flourishing as never before.
That's especially true of our trade ties.
The Netherlands is one of Georgia's biggest trade partners.
And we are the second-largest investor in Georgia.
A sign that we have every confidence in your country's future. Confidence that is fuelled by the macro-economic stability, economic growth and reforms that Georgia has achieved.

And wherever confidence and stability prevail, opportunities arise.
Opportunities to bolster our trade ties even more in the years ahead.
Take the agricultural sector.
It's no accident that for five years running the Netherlands has organised agricultural trade missions to Georgia.
As a leading player in this sector, my country is keen to share its knowledge and expertise wherever they are needed.
In this way we can create a win-win situation, and expand our cooperation as trade partners.

But Georgia is more than just a trade partner for the Netherlands.
Our countries share common values, including a commitment to democracy and the rule of law.
Thanks to all its hard work over the past few years, Georgia has become an example for the rest of the region, and therefore a key partner for the Netherlands and the EU.
In the area of security, too, our countries share common interests and challenges.
After all, the security, stability and prosperity of our regions are highly interdependent.

That is why the Netherlands values the collaborative and successful relationship we've forged with Georgia over the years.
A relationship I hope will only grow further in the future.
And not simply at the level of government and business, but for ordinary Dutch and Georgian people too.
I understand, for example, that a popular Dutch TV show set in Georgia caused the number of Dutch tourists visiting your country to jump by 60 per cent in less than two years.
I'm sure that interest will only increase now that Dutch readers are eagerly reading the bestseller by Nino Haratischvili, The Eighth Life (for Brilka).
It's clear that we are keen to seek each other out, in a whole range of areas.

So thank you for coming to the Netherlands, Prime Minister Gakharia.
And I'm looking forward to a pleasant dinner this evening.