New Ambassadors welcomed to the Netherlands in accordance with strict Covid-19 protocol

Diplomat Club Wassenaar/Kasteel De Wittenburg 20-08-2020.

Our traditional June ceremony to welcome the new Ambassadors having presented their credentials to His Majesty King Willem-Alexander, as honorary members to Diplomat Club Wassenaar was postponed in the crisis of the moment. But now, seen it has become our ‘new reality’, we took the decision, in close collaboration with the Municipality of Wassenaar and Kasteel De Wittenburg to fulfil our connecting role – which we consider of even greater importance in these days of isolation – and organise an event taking every possible health safety precaution.

Hence, we launched Welcome Ceremony “New Style”.
Covid-19 forms were filled in, hands were disinfected, distances were maintained, and the reception was a seated affair.

Six newly arrived Ambassadors and their partners were welcomed:
By alphabetical order:
H.E. Mr Fikrat Akhundov
Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan

H.E. Mr Pham Viet Anh
Ambassador of the socialist Republic of Vietnam and Mrs Le Thi Hien Anh

H.E. Mr M Riaz Hamidullah
Ambassador of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

H.E. Mr Vuzimuzi Philemon Madonsela
Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa and Mrs Yvonne Gail Madonsela

H.E. Mr Mario Javier Agustin Oyarzábal
Ambassador of the Argentine Republic and Mr Daniel Hallman

H.E. Mr Mark Anthony Pace
Ambassador of the Republic of Malta
and Mr Rick Bijkerk

We were assisted in this by the representatives of the Municipality of Wassenaar, Mayor Leendert de Lange, who hosted the welcome ceremony, and Alderman Mrs Caroline Klaver-Bouwman. H.E. Mr Fernando Arias, Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, who is the Dean of DCW accompanied by Mrs Patricia van Oordt de Arias, H.E. Mr Abdelouahab Bellouki, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco who is the Dean of the Arab Ambassadors and of the African Ambassadors with Mrs Najat Bellouki, who is board member of the Ambassadors Spouses Association.

The event took place at Diplomat Club Wasssenaar/ Kasteel De Wittenburg. The traditional pin of welcome in the Dutch colours was attached to the Ambassador’s lapels, (with mask and white gloves this time) before they were introduced to Mayor Leendert de Lange and Mrs Shida Bliek.

Mrs. Bliek warmly welcomed the guests and the new Ambassadors and their spouses as honorary members to Diplomat Club Wassenaar.
She thanked them for their presence during these challenging times and assured them that all safety precautions had been taken and added that the evening would be sober in remembrance of the world suffering from this invisible enemy. She concluded her speech saying: “social contact is at the core of human nature and we will do whatever necessary to stimulate it, within safe surroundings”.

Mayor de Lange endeared himself immediately to the assembly by welcoming each Ambassador in their native tongue before thanking Mrs Bliek for founding and leading Diplomat Club Wassenaar for the 6th year and for hosting this event.
He stressed the beauty of Wassenaar (ranked number one in South Holland and number five in the Netherlands) and its History before elaborating on its international significance with 20 % of the 26.000 residents being expats. Wassenaar boasts an American and an Indonesian school.

On Covid-19 he stated,” We all stand together in our fight to control the spread of the virus and to protect one another. We have to solve this problem together”. This togetherness and connection were to be the theme of the evening.
As backdrop, a big screen displayed the flags and the photos of the new Ambassadors with His Majesty King Willem-Alexander.

H.E. Mr. Fernando Arias, Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and former Ambassador of Spain to the Netherlands, Dean of our Club, took the floor and addressed Mrs Shida Bliek saying: “Mme Director, Mr Bliek, Mayor Leendert de Lange, Ambassador Bellouki as most senior Ambassador present, dear friends”.

DG Arias thanked Mrs Bliek for her “style and generosity” He shared how right from the start of his first meeting with Mr and Mrs Bliek six years ago, in his former capacity of Ambassador to Spain, he had believed in their friendship and ideas, appreciated their understanding of diplomatic life and their discreet support to others through their foundation. He was there at the creation of the club and has attended every event since.
He stressed what a special place The Hague is to live and work in, the quality of life, the good synergy between Wassenaar and The Hague and the intensity of bilateral and multilateral diplomacy thanks to the huge development of multilateral organisations such as the ICC, ESA and the OPCW and others.
DG Arias also mentioned that in The Hague – Wassenaar: “we have a very special international community where diplomats establish strong relationships, which often develop into friendships and that helps them very much in their work”.
He also referred to the worrying situation of disarmament in the world and the present challenges to the legal international network of disarmament treaties. He underlined that despite this, the OPCW is still very much delivering and is determined to fulfill its mission.
He emphasized that the OPCW is not working towards the non-proliferation of chemical weapons, its goal is the total destruction of all chemical weapons in the world, with no reemergence and zero tolerance.
DG Arias is very much looking forward to working closely with the newly arrived Ambassadors.

As we are of positive nature and like to think we will have our lives back to normal soon, we already announced the next event with our partner CHIO Rotterdam (horse business with yearly 2 billion revenue): The International Jumping and Dressage event and the Nations Cup Jumping and Dressage which will be held in the summer of 2021. The ‘save the date’ invitation will be sent soon.

Our website and magazine were brought to attention, Diplomat Affairs – in touch with the Dutch, which also celebrated its 5th Anniversary last year. This is where we highlight activities and topics relevant to the Embassies, as well as our joint events and we are very much looking forward to continuing this collaboration.
For now, we will be moving forward with smaller gatherings such as these, seminars, and lectures where we can connect, whilst safeguarding the health of all.

Special thanks go to: the municipality of Wassenaar and the collaboration with Mayor Leendert de Lange, the Patronage and Partnership with First Dutch in particular Mr. Peter Goedvolk, Portclub Rotterdam, Kasteel De Wittenburg, in particular Director Mr. Ralf Meppelder, the Chef of Restaurant Sophie, Mr. Roy Geel and the staff of Kasteel De Wittenburg, as they are always willing to assist and make the events, in particular the National Day celebrations that we are always delighted to help organise here, a great success. We would not have been able to organize this evening without their guidance and the social distancing observed during the function.
Last words of thanks go to the staff of Diplomat Club Wassenaar and Diplomat Affairs magazine and of course to the TenRande Foundation.

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