Speech by Prime Minister Rutte at a lunch on the occasion of the official visit by King Abdullah and Queen Rania of Jordan
Your Majesties, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
It's a great honour and privilege to welcome you to the Rolzaal at the Binnenhof, or 'Inner Court', the heart of the Dutch constitutional monarchy. We meet here as partners and friends in challenging times.
Your Majesty, King Abdullah, when you received the Peace of Westphalia Prize a few years ago, you made an impressive plea for mutual respect, cooperation and peace between people of all religions and all nations. As you wisely put it: 'Nothing serves the interests of global terror groups more than our fear and misunderstanding of each other.' I couldn't agree more. Mutual respect and understanding - like that which exists between the people of Jordan and the Netherlands - are truly the foundation beneath our common future.
In the last few years we've joined hands in the fight against terrorism. And despite the collapse of Islamic State's self-proclaimed caliphate, we must have no illusions that it means the end of its evil ideology. Only yesterday we signed an MoU on our joint efforts to track the movements of terrorists. It underlines our shared resolve to keep fighting the terrorist threat.
We are also partners in tackling the disruptive effects of the migration crisis caused by the war in Syria. Here in the Netherlands we are keenly aware that the influx into Jordan of more than a million Syrian refugees has put an immense strain on the economy and on public services like water, sewage, electricity, healthcare and education. I want to express our deepest respect to the Hashemite Kingdom and its people for taking up this Herculean task. And I'm very glad the Netherlands was able to help lighten your burden, by contributing financially in the past 2 years.
This official visit highlights a valuable partnership and aims to enhance the political and economic ties between our countries. You've come to the Netherlands to build new alliances that can bolster Jordan's economic resilience. And many Dutch partners are eager to make this happen. It gives me great pleasure to welcome both Jordanian and Dutch business leaders to our lunch table, as well as representatives of knowledge institutions and government. We all have a stake in sound bilateral economic relations, and in a strong and stable Jordan in such a troubled region. So we should all keep working together with this aim in mind.
This meeting is about the nexus of food, water and energy, 3 highly interdependent topics that demand an integrated approach. This is true for most countries, including the Netherlands and Jordan. Making a sustainable commitment to food, water and energy security can help tackle Jordan's challenges as one of the world's most water-scarce countries. We in the Netherlands are faced with the effects of climate change, the vital energy transition from carbon to hydro and solar energy, and a pressing need for more sustainable agriculture. Different problems, yes. But perhaps we can draw parallels between successful approaches.
Take hydroponic farming, which reduces dependency on fresh water for key crops by as much as 90%, while maintaining steady production rates all year round and increasing food production per square acre. Wageningen University and Research is working with its Jordanian partner Eco Consult and Jordanian farmers to introduce Dutch hydroponic technology to Jordan.
Another example is optimising treatment of wastewater for irrigation. The IHE Delft Institute for Water Education works closely with the Jordanian Ministry of Water and Irrigation and several Jordanian universities to improve wastewater treatment. But there's even more scope for improving these processes.
I hope that this visit and today's discussion will lead to fresh insights, new ideas and enhanced cooperation between Jordanian and Dutch partners at all levels. With no less than 2 kings and 2 queens present here, I'm sure this will be one of the most inspiring, energetic and productive lunches ever. Once again, Your Majesties, thank you for honouring us with your presence. Let me conclude with a toast to the mutual respect and friendship between the people of Jordan and the Netherlands. Let's team up and make that better future.