Climate change, Afghanistan and coronavirus dominate king’s speech
Despite the unrest and the polarisation, the Netherlands is and remains a good country to live in, king Willem-Alexander said in his speech marking the official start of the new parliamentary year.
The Netherlands, he said, is a country that can compete with the best in terms of the economy, if its people continue to work together.
In his speech, which outlines the government’s strategy, the king spoke about the main domestic themes for the coming year, such as the housing market and nitrogen compound pollution, as well as global issues such as climate change and Afghanistan.
‘After years of military presence and many sacrifices, this outcome is a hard blow for many Dutch Afghanistan veterans,’ the king said. Those who worked to bring out people this summer deserve deep respect and great appreciation, he said.
‘At the same time, we realise that this book is not closed. Those left behind face an uncertain fate. What happens five thousand kilometers away directly affects our our values and our own safety,’ the king said.
The king also referred to the floods in the south of the country. ‘Climate change came close this summer when residents of Limburg saw their homes and businesses flood after extreme rainfall in a few dramatic days,’ said the king. ‘In the Netherlands, protection against high water levels is of course the highest priority.’
The king, whose speech is written by the government, did not mention the current political impasse but did focus briefly on the child benefit scandal, which led to the cabinet’s resignation in January.
He also referred to the slow progress being made in compensating people in Groningen whose homes have been damaged by earthquakes.
Both, the king said, are subjects where mistakes need to be rectified and which, he said, remain an absolute priority for the cabinet.
The previous year, the king said, had been largely dominated by coronavirus. ‘Ahead is a year in which we can hope for a further return to more normal relationships,’ he said. ‘The main thing is that we Dutch people have once again shown that they are there for each other as family, friends, colleagues and neighbours.’
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