King Willem-Alexander has spoken of his sorrow at July’s Malaysian Airways plane crash, which, he said, has given a tinge of sadness to the traditional budget day ceremony.
In his second speech from the throne since he became king, Willem-Alexander said events have shown that freedom and peace are vulnerable. The MH17 air crash affected many and shocked everyone deeply, he said.
However, ‘the involvement and togetherness offered comfort to everyone faced with a great personal loss,’ he said.
Conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East show how interconnected we all are. ‘The hatred in some parts of the world should not spill over into our streets,’ he said. ‘In a time when everyone has the world in his hand via a smartphone, the social impact is even greater,’ he said.
The king said the government will defend the Dutch constitution and personal freedom and that action will be taken if boundaries are crossed. ‘Spreading hatred, threatening with violence and discrimination against population groups will not be tolerated,’ he said.
Everyone should be free to live according to their religious beliefs, he said. ‘Combating extremism and intolerance is a key job of the government.’
But parents, schools, sports clubs and others are needed to prevent radicalisation, he said, referring to the Netherlands’ long tradition of freedom and harmony.
Turning to government policy for the coming years, the king spoke about economic developments.
There is optimism but the recovery is still fragile, the king said. High unemployment remains a key issue and one which affects many families, he said.
The speech was more optimistic than those in recent years but contained little in the way of new policy suggestions, commentators said afterwards.
Read the speech (English)
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