Speech by Prime Minister Mark Rutte at a government lunch on the occasion of the state visit by President Jorge Carlos Fonseca of Cabo Verde

President Fonseca, Mrs Fonseca, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

When we think of Cabo Verde, we think of sunny beaches, clear blue skies and palm trees swaying in the breeze. The Netherlands, on the other hand, is cold, wet and grey. At least at this time of year. The contrast could hardly be bigger.

But let’s not forget that the Kingdom of the Netherlands is more than a flat country on the North Sea. The Caribbean part of our Kingdom is made up of six beautiful islands that have plenty in common with the islands of Cabo Verde. Not only their sights and smells, but also the sounds. Because, if I understand correctly, the Creole spoken in Cabo Verde is almost identical to the Papiamento spoken in the Caribbean islands of our Kingdom.

There are more than 20,000 people in the Netherlands with a Cabo Verdean background. And they have brought the islands’ mind-set, culture and music to our country

But in fact, even here, in the cold, wet part of the Kingdom, you can find a slice of Cabo Verde. There are more than 20,000 people in the Netherlands with a Cabo Verdean background. And they have brought the islands’ mind-set, culture and music to our country. The band Broederliefde – which is very popular with young people here – includes artists from Rotterdam with Cabo Verdean roots. In fact, this year they flew to the islands to film a video for one of their hits. And brought back some Cabo Verdean good cheer to the Netherlands.

President Fonseca, the ties between our countries are also reflected in the common challenges we face – including climate change. Rising sea levels and extreme weather events threaten every part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. We feel a close sense of kinship with the world’s small island developing states as they search for innovative solutions and work to adapt to climate change.

I’m glad that we’ll be discussing this issue today and looking at how we can support each other’s efforts. Let’s use the bonds between us to make our countries stronger. So that, whatever the future holds, our peoples can live in safety. And so that we can continue making the most of our assets as maritime nations!

Thank you.

Ministry responsible