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Boost for Brunei-Netherlands ties
Publication Date : 22-01-2013
The Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah said the visit by Queen Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard of the Netherlands not only helped to bring the two Royal Households closer together, but also strengthened the close links of friendship and cooperation enjoyed by the two countries' governments and peoples.
The Sultan stated this in a titah during a royal banquet in honour of Queen Beatrix and her delegation at Istana Nurul Iman last night.
Also present was Brunei's Queen Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha.
In the titah, the monarch expressed his great pleasure at welcoming the Queen of the Netherlands on her first state visit to the country.
The Sultan said he hoped to return the warm hospitality extended to him during his visit to the Netherlands in 2011.
The monarch said Brunei Darussalam and the Netherlands have long enjoyed close relations as the Dutch were among the first Europeans to arrive in the region, and the Royal Dutch Shell Company was one of the first European companies to enter the country when it began operations after oil was first discovered in 1929.
He said that both countries are members of many major international organisations and regional groupings, including the United Nations and the Asia-Europe Meeting, in addition to the on-going exchanges and cooperation which had marked an important milestone in the countries' bilateral relations.
"Since then, there has always been interaction between Dutch nationals and the people of Brunei and we are therefore no strangers to one another," he said.
The Sultan also expressed his appreciation for the Dutch contribution to the cooperation that helped Brunei's economic development in energy, health and culture - referring to Shell's collaboration with the Ministry of Health in establishing the country's National Health Promotion Centre in 2008.
The monarch also stated his appreciation for the cultural exchanges that had taken place, including the display of historical exhibits and the sharing of expertise."I believe with this co-operation, and with your historical links with our region, we will be better able to show our shared heritage to the world," he said.
In her remarks, the Queen of the Netherlands expressed her fascination with the country's natural beauty, where new plants and animal species were still being discovered each month.
"Like a magnificent green temple, the tropical rainforest covers a large proportion of Brunei. These are riches that cannot be expressed in terms of financial value," she said.
She added that the Netherlands was greatly interested in and admired the country's efforts to manage the wealth of resources bestowed on it, and moves to preserve these treasures for future generations, reflecting on cooperation and sustainable economic development.
The Dutch Queen said that together with Indonesia and Malaysia, Brunei was ensuring that the green "Heart of Borneo" continued to beat, in terms of nature conservation and improved prospects for local communities.
On the subject of ties between the Brunei government and Shell, she said the cooperation had developed an ambitious vision for the country's future, including Vision 2035, presenting a clear sign of the quality of their relationship and the great confidence they had in each other.
Queen Beatrix also spoke about Asean's constructive role in the region.
She said the Netherlands welcomed Brunei's active approach within the association and wished to work towards the further strengthening of relations between the European Union and Asean.
"This year, your country has the special task of holding the Asean Chair.
"The Netherlands is looking forward to exploring the opportunities for further cooperation during that period," she said
The Queen also expressed the wish to see initiatives for closer contact between the Brunei Museum in Bandar Seri Begawan and the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam, which have plans to strengthen mutual ties.
"The aim is to increase awareness of the beauty of this country and to deepen understanding between our peoples. That aspiration can only be applauded," she said.
The Queen ended her speech by wishing Brunei a bright future "...in the expectation that the friendly ties between our two countries will continue to contribute to that future for many years to come."
Queen Beatrix and her delegation is in the country for a three-day state visit.