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Speech of His Majesty the King of the Belgians - State Dinner Denmark

28 March 2017

Speech of His Majesty the King of Belgium
at the state dinner hosted by
Her Majesty the Queen of Denmark
Christiansborg Palace, Tuesday 28 March 2017.

Your Majesty,

Queen Mathilde and I would like to thank you for your warm welcome, and for the kind words addressed to us. Our visit comes at a time when your family is in mourning. We are very sorry for your loss. Our thoughts today are with your sister Princess Benedikte in particular.

This state visit is an opportunity to discover even more of your beautiful country. Forty years ago, four years after your proclamation as Queen, you were received for your first state visit to Belgium by King Baudouin. Today, four years after my own accession to the throne, you welcome us in Denmark. We have close family ties, in particular through my grandmother Queen Astrid and there has been sincere friendship between us since a long time. We have known you as a Queen with vast experience, close to your fellow citizens, and who is highly respected. In addition to your renowned artistic talent, your rich personality reflects both a deep respect for the traditions of your country and an outlook towards the future.

Your Majesty, Royal Highnesses, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Denmark successfully combines tradition with modernity. The distinction and splendour with which you have received us illustrates this sense of tradition.  But at the same time, your country has emerged as a pioneer in the area of technical progress, and a forerunner in defending major global causes.  You have long exceeded the familiar threshold of 0.7% of GDP in allocating resources to development aid. You actively contribute towards peacekeeping. With your high level of renewable energy, you are at the forefront of the fight against global warming. Your capital city, which was a European Green Capital in 2014, is a model of urban organisation.

This dynamism has long been your hallmark. Since the start of the 19th century, your farmers have founded local support associations, and an education system which encourages personal responsibility and enterprise. A sense of belonging, and a willingness to progress together resulted in Denmark being one of the first countries to introduce universal suffrage. For you, modernity is a tradition.

Belgium and Denmark may be different, but we also have a lot in common in many areas. Human capital is our principal natural resource.  This is reflected in the emphasis we place on education and training, and the fact that our workforces are among the most qualified, and our universities are among the most innovative in Europe. Our young people are bursting with ideas, not only for actively participating in the digital revolution, but also for bringing more humanity to our societies. The proliferation of social entrepreneurs and the success of the sharing economy testify to this.

Our location on the European map places both of us at the heart of two much larger regions, organised around the Nordic Council and the Benelux, for which our capital cities are home to their respective headquarters. These institutions aim at suppressing barriers, at taking advantage of complementarities and at developing synergies. This is the very spirit that brings us also together in the European Union.                                                                             

If Denmark has managed so brilliantly to combine the past and the future, if it has managed to develop its resources and human values to the point of being considered as one of the happiest nations in the world, it is because it has built all of this on a high level of trust.  Trust between people and towards institutions. In today's world, it is essential to remember the value of trust. Because indeed, nobody can be happy without trust, no human society can thrive and no democracy can succeed without it.

Your Majesty, Royal Highnesses, Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are very grateful for the magnificent programme which has been organised for us. We are also honoured to be accompanied by the Crown Prince and Princess Mary, to whom I offer my sincere thanks. We are delighted to see the synergies which already exist between our companies and our universities, and look forward to seeing those which will be created during the many exchanges of experiences which will take place during our visit.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I invite you to raise your glass to the health of Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik.