Jordan's King Holds Talks With Dutch Prime Minister

Published Mar. 21, 2018


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Their Majesties King Abdullah and Queen Rania Al Abdullah attended a government lunch hosted by Prime Minister Rutte in honour of Their Majesties and the accompanying delegation, and attended by King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands.

At the lunch, His Majesty delivered the following remarks:

“In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Compassionate,

Your Majesties, Prime Minister, Dear friends, Rania and I are truly delighted to be here in the Netherlands again. And, truly, on behalf of all of us, our tremendous thanks for the warm hospitality and the kindness that we’ve been shown since our arrival here.

Mr Prime Minister, over the past few years, you and I have worked together on some truly challenging issues—global security, climate change, the refugee crisis.

Our countries cooperate closely in the fight against global terror, and stand together in the international coalition against Daesh, or ISIS.

We are also partners in bilateral and multilateral programmes, private-sector initiatives, and academic exchanges. And Jordan deeply, deeply appreciates being among the new partner countries that are designated a focus of Dutch development cooperation.

As you have recognised, today’s situation demands a new sense of urgency. We in Jordan have 1.3 million Syrian refugees, and they have put a huge burden on our people and economy. Creative solutions are essential to give our young people the tools and opportunities they need to build secure futures, and also help refugees, especially youth, prepare to return home with the skills and civic values needed to rebuild their countries.

This is the heart of Jordan’s world-recognised refugee response plan. In the days ahead, we hope to work closely with you and your government to move forward with sustainable, inclusive development, maximise the use of our scarce resources, and take advantage of Jordan’s abundant strengths, including our talented, aspiring people.

We welcome Dutch trade, investment, and innovation, particularly in areas like alternative energy, ICT, education and the environment. These are priorities for us, not only because they have major potential, but because they contribute to strength across our economy.

One especially important focus is, as you have mentioned Sir, the vital food-water-energy nexus. Jordan is the second water-poorest country in the world. And indeed, the water situation in our two countries could not be more different. But I say that no two countries better understand the profound impact of water management on humanity’s future. So I think there are some very fruitful areas for our combined knowledge.

Security cooperation is obviously another area of enormous shared interest and concern. And I have strongly advocated a holistic, comprehensive approach, one that addresses the threat, while also fighting the war of ideas through inclusion and moderation, giving all people—especially young people—a stake in a future of peace and mutual respect. These are values the Dutch have championed for so long.

Finally, let me say a word about crisis resolution. It is vital to push forward on the Geneva process, to help the parties in Syria reach an inclusive political settlement. But we also cannot lose sight of the region’s central crisis—the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, or the growing and global concern for the safety of Jerusalem. We need to protect the holy city and get the peace process back on track. As a respected leader of diplomacy and peace, the Netherlands can play an important role.

My friends, I’ve outlined only a few areas of mutual interest. There are many more opportunities to fulfil the goals that Jordan and the Netherlands share. I welcome your ideas, and I look forward to expanding our partnerships, in creative new ways, in the days ahead.”

Prime Minister Rutte also gave the following remarks:

“Your Majesties, Your Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

It’s a great honour and privilege to welcome you all 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 ISIS’ 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 two years.

This official visit highlights a valuable partnership and aims to enhance the political and economic ties between our two 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 keep working together with this aim in mind.

This meeting is about the nexus of food, water and energy, three 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 also 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 per cent, 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 two kings and two 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.”

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Powering Agriculture Innovator ECO Consult's successful partnership with Wageningen University in the Netherlands was part of the conversation at a recent luncheon hosted by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte for Jordan's King Abdullah and Queen Rania Al Abdullah.

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USAID’s first Global Water Coordinator recently visited several USAID-supported project sites in the Middle East. His trip included a stop at one of ECO Consult’s hydroponic greenhouses. This water-saving technology reduces water usage by up to 40% and significantly increases crop yields.