'Our future is in Europe'

Wopke Hoekstra explains what he is aiming for in the coming years as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

'When I entered politics a number of years ago, I did so in order to do my part for this country. By addressing concrete challenges in a common-sense way, I sought to make the Netherlands stronger and more prosperous. Yesterday, I took up my duties as Minister of Foreign Affairs. I’m looking forward to this new role immensely, for the very reason I got into politics in the first place. Here at this ministry we make a difference for the Netherlands through our efforts in the rest of the world, working with others.'

Minister Wopke Hoekstra en Josep Borrell, de Hoge Vertegenwoordiger voor buitenlands beleid en veiligheid van de Europese Commissie
©ANP, Jonas Roosens
Wopke Hoekstra left for Brussels on January 11, 2022. There he spoke with EU foreign affairs representative Josep Borrell about, among other things, the tensions between Ukraine and Russia, and the commitment of the new dutch government to contribute to a stronger, safer and more decisive EU.

'Whether the issue is climate change, the coronavirus pandemic, the troubling situation right on the edge of Europe in Ukraine or the ever-growing influence of China, including on our own country, the challenges of the 21st century transcend borders. And the same goes for their solutions. As Minister of Foreign Affairs, I want to defend the Netherlands’ interests by clearly articulating our positions in strong collectives, like the EU, NATO and the UN.'

'Twenty years ago I arrived with a big suitcase at the Ostbahnhof in Berlin, a city where I lived and worked with a great deal of pleasure. Not long before, I had studied in Rome, and a few years later, in Paris. These are cities that still feel like home, and that’s hardly surprising. It was only during that period that I began to fully appreciate our continent’s rich history.'

'I will be doing a lot of travelling in Europe in the coming weeks and months, committed to the belief that this is where our future lies. This week I will meet my counterparts from other EU member states at a meeting of foreign ministers. I am a great proponent of the European Union and of greater European cooperation. At the same time I’m firmly convinced that we must and can do things better.'

'Europe is on the cusp of a crucial period. If you look back, you can see how European values came to fruition in all the countries of the continent over the centuries…and how tyranny and dictatorship slowly but surely made way for democracy and a sense of community. Whether we live in Italy or the Netherlands, we believe in individual freedom and the strength of our society.'

'We all want our children to be spared from war and violence. We want them to be able to lead lives of their choosing, and we don’t want anything to come along that could erode their rights and the achievements of our democracy. If you look back, you can see Europe’s particular contribution to the stability, freedom and prosperity we all cherish.'

'And this is where our future lies, provided we don’t just let events overwhelm us. Europe has evolved into a major power, but we have some serious catching up to do in the geopolitical realm, particularly in a world where power dynamics are changing and the leading roles are being filled by new actors. There is an important role for the Netherlands in this crucial period for Europe, as both a unifying force and an agent of change.'

'I want the Netherlands to play a leading role in making the EU stronger, greener and more decisive. By acting collectively to defend our borders. By responding to divide-and-rule strategies with unity. By giving our economy a boost through investments in innovation. By standing up for our values, not only outside Europe, but also and especially inside it. This is the way we need to confront the challenges of the 21st century.'

'Together we are stronger, both within Europe and beyond. These are the thoughts that were on my mind as I stepped into my role as Minister of Foreign Affairs yesterday. I’m looking forward to it!'