Russia and the Netherlands: traditions, historical continuity and new prospects for partnership
My visit to the Netherlands begins on Monday. In the course of this visit HM Queen Beatrix and I will officially open the Year of Russia in the Netherlands and the Year of the Netherlands in Russia. In the framework of this largest endeavor ever we will try to cover as many areas of bilateral cooperation as possible, to support business and creative initiatives of the citizens of our countries, organisations of the civil society and regions and thus encourage the strengthening and further development of the traditionally friendly relations between Russian and the Netherlands. Art exhibitions, theater tours and sports competitions - on the whole over 200 cultural and educational events - will take place during the Bilateral Year in our countries. All this will most certainly enrich the social life both in Russia and the Netherlands and will allow our peoples to learn more about each other. With over 60 business forums and other economy-oriented events on schedule, the Bilateral Year is bound to give a significant impetus to promising business projects. The Netherlands has long been among the top three trade and investment partners of Russia. In 2012, our bilateral turnover amounted to 82.7 billion US dollars while the accumulated Dutch investment in Russia reached 61.5 billion US dollars at the end of last year. These numbers visually testify to the enormous potential we have for cooperation, primarily in the energy sphere, high technology and innovation, agricultural and food industries. We are proud of the glorious pages of our common history. Today, in the 21st century, we are trying to ensure continuity by advancing harmonious and genuine partnership with the Netherlands.
People of Russia are well aware that the Dutch were the ones who taught seamanship to Peter the Great; 400 years ago Holland was a leading maritime and trade power, and its natives left a major imprint in the world’s history, including Russian. The people in the Netherlands, in turn, remember the heroism of Russian soldiers who in 1813 helped liberate Amsterdam, Breda and other Dutch cities from Napoleon’s invaders. They honor the memory of our compatriot, Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna, spouse of King William II. And I would like to hope that the respect of the Dutch people for the Russian soldiers who fought and died liberating Europe from Nazism remains unchanged.
The Bilateral Year will no doubt create a good foundation for further deepening of political dialogue between Russia and the Netherlands. To a large extent, our positions on the key issues of the European and global international politics are similar. We intend to further promote the strengthening of security and stability in Europe and in the whole world, and the reduction of risk of economic distress.
I sincerely hope that the Bilateral Year will give our peoples a chance to become closer, to know each other better, will, in the long term, open up ways to pursue various joint initiatives. I would like to take this opportunity to wish peace, success and prosperity to the readers of De Telegraaf and the people of the Netherlands, this beautiful land of tulips.
The relations between Russia and the Netherlands have been intensively developing. The enhanced partnership is rich of political contacts of all levels and meetings on the sidelines of international conferences.
Trade, economy and investments are important aspects of the bilateral relations.
In 2012, Russian-Dutch trade turnover increased by 20.6% on the year reaching $o 82.7 billion. As a result, the Netherland ranks Russia’s first foreign trade partner in Europe and second global partner after China. In 2012, Russia’s surplus in trade with the Netherlands was $70.8 billion.
Investment partnership between Russia and the Netherlands shows sustainable positive dynamics. Since 2002, the Dutch investment into the Russian economy soared by more than ten times. In terms of investments into the Russian economy the Netherlands ranks second after Cyprus.
More than 3000 Dutch companies have representative offices in Russia. The number of enterprises with participation of Dutch capital has exceeded 800.
Dutch concerns Shell and Unilever are taking part in the work of the Consulting Council on foreign investments under the Russian government.
Energy sector also remains an important area of the Russian-Dutch cooperation. In September 2009, Lukoil oil major acquired 45% stake in the TOTAL Raffinaderij Nederlandoil refinery.
The contacts between Russia’s Gazprom and Gas Unie (especially their cooperation on the construction of the North Stream pipeline) are of crucial importance for European energy security.