Welcome Ceremony New Ambassadors in the Netherlands 2021 Sunshine after the Dark: celebrating the human connection

02-07-2021 – Diplomat Club Wassenaar – The Netherlands

The improvement of the Covid-19 situation finally enabled us to hold our bi-annual Welcome Ceremony for newly accredited Ambassadors to the Netherlands.There were seventeen new Ambassadors to welcome as honorary members to Diplomat Club Wassenaar, many with their spouses. Some Ambassadors had mostly stayed confined in their Residences for more than six months and this was their first opportunity to connect.

On arrival, the new Ambassadors received the traditional Dutch flag pin bestowed by DCW before making their way to Director and Founder of Diplomat Club Wassenaar Mrs Shida Bliek, and President of TenRande Foundation Mr Peter Bliek.

The new Ambassadors present, represent the following countries (in alphabetical order):

Ambassador of Belarus, H.E. Mr. Andrei Yeudachenka; Ambassador of Brazil, H.E. Mr. Paulo Roberto Caminha de Castilhos França; Ambassador of Cameroon, H.E.  Mrs. Madeleine Liguemoh Ondoua; Ambassador of China, H.E. Mr. Tan Jian, Ambassador of Egypt, H.E. Mr. Hatem Elsayed Mohamed Kamaleldin; Ambassador of India, H.E. Mr. Pradeep Kumar Rawat, Ambassadorof North Macedonia, H.E. Mrs. Beti Jacheva, Ambassador of Mexico, H.E. Mr. José Antonio Zabalgoitia; Ambassador of Nigeria, H.E. Mrs. Dr. Eniola Ajayi, Ambassador of Panama, H.E. Ms. Elizabeth Ward Neiman, AmbassadorofThe Philippines, H.E. Mr. J. Eduardo Malaya; Ambassador of Peru, H.E. Mrs. Marisol Flavia Agüero Colugna, Ambassador of Rwanda, H.E. Mr. Olivier Jean Patrick Nduhungirehe, Ambassador of Saudi Arabia, H.E. Mr. Ziad M.D. Al Atiyah, Ambassador of Suriname H.E. Mr. R. Khargi; Ambassador of Thailand, H.E. Mr. Chatri Archjananun; Ambassador of Tunisia, H.E. Mr. Slim Ghariani.

Spirits were high at this opportunity to finally connect face to face, meet, exchange, and fulfil their mission and mandate: to build bridges.

The joy and enthusiasm were almost palpable, as guests turned from one to another, conversations flowing, meeting each other, and renewing contact amidst the still present challenge of maintaining 1.5 m distance. The only cloud was that Mrs Bliek would have so much liked to be able to invite all Ambassadors to this celebration of diplomacy, but we will gratefully accept for now having been able to hold this event, and strongly look forward to being able to host an event with all our Honorary Member Ambassadors.

Mrs Shida Bliek welcomed the new Ambassadors to the Club saying: “Today we are not only welcoming the new Ambassadors but also the honorary Ambassadors with whom we have shared so many memories and have not seen for a while due to Covid-19. I feel like we are renewing our vows today. We also bid farewell to the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Jordan”. Mrs. Bliek invited the Mayor of the Municipality of Wassenaar, Mr Leendert de Lange to address the assembly.
The mayor expressed his joy in being able to welcome, together with alderman and deputy mayor Mrs. Caroline Klaver-Bouman, the guests to the Municipality of Wassenaar. In his speech, Mayor de Lange thanked Mrs. Bliek for organising this special event and for her dedication to the Club.
All the new Ambassadors were named one by one and offered a bag with Dutch cheese made with milk from Wassenaar’s cows! “Today there are so many nationalities present here, it feels like presenting the Euro Song Contest” quipped the mayor.

Mayor de Lange emphasised that Wassenaar has about 26.000 inhabitants, 20 percent of which are expats which makes the municipality of Wassenaar an international community.
Once more this year, the magazine Elsevier has crowned Wassenaar the best place to live in South Holland and 5th in the Netherlands. He explained that Wassenaar actually only became known when Louis Bonaparte ordered the construction of the Heerweg, currently the Rijksstraatweg. He encouraged the Ambassadors to visit all the highlights of Wassenaar and of the Netherlands, stressing that the best way to do so was by bike!

The Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco, H.E. Mr.  Abdelouahab Bellouki, took to the stage as Dean of the Arab Ambassadors to bid farewell to HE Mr. Nawaf Wasfi El Tell, Ambassador of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the Kingdom of the Netherlands who has been installedas Minister of State for Follow-up and Government Coordination. Mr Bellouki passionately stressed the many achievements of the departing Ambassador, who could not be present but was represented by his charming spouse Mrs Sian Tell, who was also actively involved as board member of the Ambassadors’ Spouses Association.

Read more: Remarks by HE Mr. Abdelouahab Bellouki, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco, bidding farewell to HE Mr. Nawaf Wasfi El Tell, Ambassador of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the Kingdom of the Netherlands. 

As Master of Ceremony for the evening, I seized the occasion to explain to the new Ambassadors the main raison d’ être of the club, and the vision of the founder Mrs Bliek, to create a neutral environment where politics and religion could be put aside and where our Honorary Member Ambassadors could meet, on neutral grounds, not only with their colleagues but also be in touch with the Dutch, with the captains of Industry and Dutch officials from all walks of life.

Our Club may be called Diplomat Club Wassenaar, but we do not see The Hague and Wassenaar as separate entities. The Embassies are all in The Hague, the Ambassadors work together in The Hague. Residencies are in The Hague and Wassenaar. We have chosen Kasteel De Wittenburg as our base, as, we believe it borders on both.

As H.E. Mr. Fernando Arias, the Director General of the OPCW emphasized in his speech at our last event in august 2020: “We have, in The Hague – Wassenaar a very special international community where diplomats establish strong relationships, which often develop into friendships which help them very much in their work”. https://www.diplomataffairs.nl/new-ambassadors-welcomed-to-the-netherlands-in-accordance-with-strict-covid-19-protocol/

We keep our members in touch with the Dutch through an emphasis on Art (we are actively involved in the heritage of a Cobra artist), through music (with our collaboration with The Royal Conservatoire The Hague), charity (Cure for Cancer/SOS children village), and Sports/business, in particular through our partnership with PortClub Rotterdam and CHIO where we have often attended the finals of the CHIO International horse jumping competition, with our Ambassador Honorary members. All the events organised by the club occur in collaboration with the TenRande Foundation.

Mrs Bliek also seized the occasion to single out five Honorary Members: H.E. Mr. Matthew Neuhaus the Ambassador of Australia and Mrs. Angela Neuhaus; H.E. MrAbdelouahab Bellouki the Ambassador of Morocco and Mrs. Najat Bellouki; H.E. Fernando Arias, the Director-General of the OPCW (abroad on mission) represented by Mrs Patricia van Oordt de Arias; H.E. Mrs. Laura Dupuy, the Ambassador of Uruguay, and H.E. Mgr. Aldo Cavalli the Ambassador to the Holy See, for their on-going support to the Club during COVID-19, and their being in touch with the Dutch community.

There was also a word of appreciation for Mrs Bonnie Klap and Mrs. Drs. Eva Maria E. Mennes Wuesten, for their involvement in the founding of Diplomat Affairs Magazine seven years ago (Mrs. Bliek is the Publisher).  

DCW thanked their partners: The Municipality of Wassenaar, represented by the Mayor, H.E. Mr. Leendert de Lange; TenRande Foundation and its President Mr. Peter Bliek; CHIO; PortClub Rotterdam and its President, Mr. Peter Goedvolk. Not to forget The Royal Conservatoire The Hague and its Director Mr. Henk van der Meulen. And last but by no means least, the Director of Kasteel De Wittenburg, Mr Ralph Meppelder who was invited to the stage, and introduced Master Chef of Restaurant Sophie and his team, for a well-deserved round of applause. Diplomat Club Wassenaar highly appreciates their ongoing masterly facilitation of our Club events which includes organising National Days in the spacious Oranje Nassau Ballroom (which holds up to 700 guests).

It felt like a midsummer dream and at DCW, we are finally daring to feel optimistic and are hoping for a year of events, and of articles highlighting your activities in our online magazine and hard copy Diplomat Affairs as we endeavour to offer “a home away from home” to our members and their spouses and contribute somewhat to making your postings here as successful and enjoyable as possible. In this, our 7th year of existence, Diplomat Club Wassenaar is delighted to have managed to maintain our by now well-established tradition of welcoming and bidding farewell to our Honorary Members. The club is yours. We welcome you to share ideas, inputs, and observations as we continue to improve on our activities. We look forward to our next event and for now wish you all a wonderful, and safe summer.

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