Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Official comments from White House

For Immediate Release

June 01, 2015

Remarks by President Obama and King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands After Meeting

Oval Office

11:37 A.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, it is a great honor to welcome His and Her Majesties, Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima.  They have been wonderful friends to myself and Michelle and the girls, personally.  I want to thank once and again the people of the Netherlands for the incredible hospitality they had shown us in the past, including most recently during the Nuclear Security Summit that took place in Amsterdam and The Hague.

We have 400 years of history between our two countries.  In Europe, that doesn’t mean a lot, but in the United States that is as old as it gets.  And so the Dutch are some of our oldest and more precious allies.  That continues to this day.

We’ve had the opportunity to discuss the shared work that we do through NATO in making sure that the transatlantic relationship stays strong.  We discussed the continuing challenges in Ukraine and the importance of making sure that the Minsk agreement moves forward.  And I continue to make the solemn commitment to support the Dutch in the investigation of the Malaysia Airlines tragedy, and to make sure that not only is the truth brought forward, but there’s accountability for what took place.

We discussed our shared concerns in other parts of the world, including in the Middle East, where Dutch troops work alongside U.S. and other coalition members to help defeat ISIL and to stabilize Iraq.

We talked about the excellent work that the United States partnered with the Dutch when it comes to Ebola, and the work that still remains to be done around establishing the kind of health infrastructure that’s going to be so important to preventing diseases in the future.

I was particularly impressed with the outstanding work that Her Majesty the Queen is doing with the United Nations around inclusive financing.  One of the things that we know is that all around the world there is enormous human potential that so often is locked up because of the difficulty of accessing capital.  And the creative work that Her Majesty is doing in providing micro-loans and new mechanisms for credit, again, is making an enormous difference, particularly, I should add, when it is provided equally to women, who so often are even facing greater challenges in accessing capital.

And we discussed the ongoing work that we’ll be doing to build on the progress that’s been made over the last several years through the Nuclear Security Summit and the importance of non-proliferation.

So whether it’s in Afghanistan, whether it’s in public health issues, whether it’s in Europe and the need for us to maintain solidarity and uphold the principles that have been central to building a unified and peaceful Europe, the Netherlands has consistently been one of our greatest allies.  And I think for His Majesty the King and Queen to have gone to Arlington and to honor not only the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, but to meet some of that Greatest Generation who helped to liberate Europe and the Netherlands and to usher in this era of peace and prosperity is extraordinarily significant.

So many of our World War II veterans during the 70-year anniversary are at the twilight of their lives, and for them to hear directly from such important people how much of a difference they made and to get that recognition is truly significant.  So I’m grateful, Your Majesty, for that, and even more grateful for the continuing friendship that the Dutch people have shown the United States of America.

KING WILLEM-ALEXANDER:  Well, thank you very much, Mr. President, for your warm words of welcome here.  On behalf of my wife and myself, we’re very thankful to be back at the White House.  Great to see you again since last year at the Nuclear Security Summit.

First of all, I’d like to express my sympathy to the people in Texas and Oklahoma for their suffering in such severe weather conditions right now.  The floodings are terrible.  The victims and families are going through a rough time.  And if we can help as the Netherlands, of course we are willing to help.

Second of all, my heartfelt condolences for Vice President Biden for a second big tragedy in his life, now losing a son while he is serving as best he can as Vice President here in the United States.

The main reason for our visit obviously was to thank the United States for what you’d done for us 70 years ago. Especially the 82nd and 101 Airborne have played a major role in liberating our country, taking away the Nazi oppression and giving us back justice and rule of law and freedom.  And ever since that moment, we are grateful.  And as long as the Netherlands exist, we will be grateful for the United States for giving that to us.

This morning, at Arlington, the wreath-laying ceremony, we honored those people that gave their utmost, their life, for our country.  And speaking with the veterans and the Rosies was very impressive for us -- veterans that have liberated my country; the Rosies that took the place in the industry here and that kept this country running so that the men could fight on the other side of the ocean.  Very, very impressive, I must say.  And once again, USA, thank you very much for liberating us.

Those values that you stood for at the time and that were not available to us and we regained, we now stand shoulder by shoulder fighting ISIL -- “shoulder by shoulder,” meaning a small shoulder and a big shoulder.  But still, we stand next to each other and we have the same values we want to defend facing ISIL.

So having said that, the next part of our visit will be also looking back at the Dutch history.  First, Hudson of 1609, and then the first salutes to the American flag from the Island of Statia in November, 1776.  When the Andrew Doria sailed there, the Dutch saluted the flag.  And ever since, we’ve had a great bond with your country.  Four and a half million Americans are from Dutch descent.  You are the largest investor in our country; we are the third largest in your country.  So this is really worthwhile to continue our relationship, and that’s what we are working on these days.

We’re going off to Michigan, to Holland, Michigan, to Grand Rapids, to see a lot of these descendants, and we’re going to Chicago, where we hope to have a party -- your hometown, obviously.  But also the origin of House -- the House of Orange is hoping to see some good music there at Millennium Park and also look at some serious topics as healthy aging, urban farming, solar, and there a lot of things that we can learn from each other.

But once again, Mr. President, thank you very much for receiving my wife and myself here.  It is great to see you again.  All the best of luck for the United States.

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