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President of the Republic on the occasion of the state visit of His Majesty King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands to the Republic of Estonia

12.06.2018

Your Majesty,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honour to receive Your Majesty in Estonia at the time we are celebrating the centenary of our statehood.

Our diplomatic relations date to 1921, but our historical connections go back as far as the times of the Hanseatic League and Moedernegotie (Mother of all trades), the most important source of income for the Dutch, even before the Gouden Eeuw. It consisted of the trade with countries around the Baltic Sea in goods such as graan (grain) and hout (wood). Goederen (goods) that the Dutch traders were clever enough to invest in. For example, the timber shipped through Narva, the town on the border of the Western and Eastern civilisation, was partly used to build Amsterdam. The good economic and trade relations continue until now with the Netherlands being the third biggest foreign investor. And I am pleased that the traditional trade with grain and wood has expanded to more innovative, digital fields, sometimes combining the two.

While the relations between our merchants were friendly and mutually beneficial and helped Estonian towns to flourish, they left a legacy also to our language. Even though our languages are otherwise not that similar, some of the most common words like keuken (köök) and kroonluchter (kroonlühter) sound basically the same. Of course, many similar words belong to the field of shipping and maritime affairs.

Trade is not the only connection between us. It is also the low sky – Lage Hemel – and the feeling that we need to fly high, because small nations cannot afford to do small things. And indeed the particular low sky above our countries – that the KLM´s co-pilot van Buren is perhaps very familiar with – has not been an obstacle for our nations to be successful.

Speaking of flying, one of the first professional female pilots in Estonia, Elvy Kalep, was inspired and taught by Anthony Fokker. It took her only five hours of flying to receive a diploma in 1931. Thanks to your Flying Dutchman Estonia got her first female pilot who later herself inspired the younger generations by writing a children´s book "Air Babies" with main characters Happy Wings and Speedy.

Your Majesty, Estonians and the Dutch have similar approach to life and work. We both are direct, want to get down to business straight away and achieve results quickly and efficiently. We also share similar sense of humour. We can easily align ourselves with the well-known Dutch saying "Just act normal, that is crazy enough". But we still need to learn how to use the polder model for always searching for a common ground and consensus and acting accordingly for the sake of the higher goal.

One of the higher goals we share is protecting our common values. As partners in the European Union and allies in NATO already for 14 years, it is in our joint interest to defend and preserve the rules based world order – one of the cornerstones of our societies. The common values and the similarities of our countries have made us like-minded partners in many areas. Of course, the fact that many Estonian officials studied in the Clingendael Academy before joining the EU, has brought our people closer together. We are sincerely thankful for your military presence in the Baltic region. This has brought us further together and made the entire North Atlantic Alliance stronger. As security providers we work together to adopt the alliance to current threats, and serve on NATO missions to bring peace and stability to the world.

Your Majesty, I hope you have a memorable visit to Estonia. I look forward to visiting with you the AgriInnovation Programme and the exhibition of the most famous artist from the

Flemish School of Painting – Michael von Sittow, who was born in Tallinn. When you travel back to the Netherlands, please bring my warm greetings to Her Majesty Queen Máxima. I hope we will have an occasion to meet in the future.

I now raise my glass to Your Majesty, to the Netherlands and our common values and prosperous future.

Proost!