Speech by Minister Hoekstra about the Africa Strategy

Speech by Wopke Hoekstra, Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs. Consultation with African ambassadors on Monday 5 December 2022. The spoken word applies.

Your Excellencies,

It’s great to see you here today. I’m glad we have this opportunity to meet and exchange ideas.

The Netherlands has longstanding relationships with the countries you represent. And yet, for at least two decades, we haven’t had a comprehensive Africa Strategy.

In that time, both your continent and ours have changed in countless ways.

So we believe it’s high time we had a new strategy to guide our engagement, and our relations.

Even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, we believed this was the right step, but the current geopolitical situation has made us even more certain.

The South African Institute for Security Studies recently developed some interesting scenarios to help us understand the consequences of Russia’s invasion for Africa.

Not surprisingly, it concluded that a future of peace and long-term sustainability would be most beneficial to both our continents.

That’s one thing we’d like to discuss with you today– cooperation for international security and stability. Another is our shared history and relationship.

Recognising and coming to terms with Europe’s colonial past is a subject of public debate in the Netherlands. Today’s global relations – and inequalities – are to some extent rooted in colonial history.

So if our countries are to enjoy good relations, we realise we must recognise and respect that reality.

Africa and Europe have already taken steps to strengthen our partnerships in areas such as migration.

These partnerships are crucial for the Netherlands, as an EU member state.

Our new national strategy seeks to add to these EU-level agreements: the express aim is to further enhance our relations, and to assist African countries and institutions where we can.

The new strategy will also highlight areas where the Netherlands has specific interests, exploring where – and how – we can add value.

Your Excellencies,

Africa is often called the ‘continent of the future’.

It’s a significant power player within UN systems and economic blocs.

And it will soon be one of the largest free-trade areas in the world.

Africa is, and will remain, by far the world’s youngest continent in terms of population. With the African Union’s Agenda 2063, your governments have set out an aspirational agenda for peace, governance and development.

We believe that this agenda offers an excellent blueprint for mutually beneficial relations in the future, rooted in equality. I would very much like to know what you think what needs to be done to achieve truly equal partnerships. What does that entail for you?

The Netherlands is a merchant nation, with a strong belief in freedom and the international rule of law.

Both of these values have come under pressure in recent years, and we believe this concerns every country in the world.

With that in mind, we will continue to engage with other countries, always looking for ways of working together to bolster the rule of law.

At times, this might lead to friction, but we believe being able to discuss these things is a sign of a mature partnership. Sometimes we may have to agree to disagree, but we should always stay engaged.

With our Africa Strategy, we hope to further deepen our valued partnerships and improve our engagement.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas today.

Thank you.