Celebrating Values, Accepting Differences And Building Ties
- Nov. 07 2013 00:00
From your perspective, living and working in The Hague, how is the Russian-Dutch relationship developing?
Over the almost four years that I have been the Russian Ambassador to The Netherlands, I have seen Russian-Dutch contacts intensify greatly. This relates to almost all spheres: there is more business, more tourism, and there are more cultural exchanges.
A growing number of Russian companies is entering the Dutch market, expanding in The Netherlands, and teaming up with Dutch businesses in large projects — for instance, LUKOIL or Summa Group. Dutch companies are also broadening their activities in my country.
Contemporary music, dance, photography and literature from Russia and The Netherlands cross borders to reach out to the hearts of people living thousands of kilometers apart. The initiatives are legion, and the Year of Russia in The Netherlands and of The Netherlands in Russia has certainly enhanced this mutual movement towards each other.
Russian companies and industries are opening representative offices in The Netherlands. Can you give an example?
The Russian software industry is amongst the most advanced and competitive. In The Netherlands, there is a high demand for software and IT development outsourcing, and business always goes where there is a market for its product. Establishing an office in The Hague will allow Russoft, an association of more than 70 leading Russian IT companies with a staff of over 17,000 employees, to come closer to its Dutch and European clients in order to assist them in solving their highly complex ICT tasks.
Are there other examples of Russian business associations with representative offices in The Netherlands?
Almost exactly a year ago, the Association for Russian-Dutch Business Cooperation was established by the business communities of both countries with a view to provide real, practical assistance to its members in doing business in Russia and in The Netherlands. It has more than 20 members now, among them are some key players. The Dutch part of the association is coordinated by the Port of Rotterdam Authority.
RUSPRIX is awarded each year for contributions to bilateral relations. Can you say more about it?
RUSPRIX has not only been awarded to Dutch organizations and individuals, but recently also to Dutch-Russian teams and projects and to Russian companies and people who have contributed to bilateral relations — in the political, business, social and cultural spheres. The ceremony is held in June each year, on a Friday close to the National Day of Russia, which we celebrate on 12 June. I will not single out any laureate in particular, this would simply be unfair, but I will note a great diversity amongst the winners and, at the same time, one thing they have in common: their efforts have greatly contributed to shaping Russian-Dutch relations.
What were the highlights of the bilateral year from the perspective of the Russian embassy in The Netherlands?
The level and intensity of Russian cultural presence in The Netherlands was quite unique. Among the main highlights are: "Russia XXI", Contemporary Russian Sculpture Exhibition at Beelden aan Zee Museum and Lange Voorhout street in The Hague; "Peter the Great, an Inspired Tsar" Exhibition at the Hermitage Amsterdam Museum; "The Big Change. Revolutions in Russian Painting 1895-1917" Exhibition at the Bonnefanten Museum (Maastricht); "Women of the Revolution. Russia 1907-1934" Exhibition at Groninger Museum (Groningen); the International Children's Forum, "This world is ours!" in The Hague, Amsterdam and Utrecht; along with concerts of the Mariinskiy Theater orchestra and ballet groups in Rotterdam and The Hague.
The Russian Food Fair in Amsterdam was unprecedented, bringing some of the finest and most delicious products from Russian regions to Holland. We hope it will pave the way for Russian produce to the Dutch market.
Are there any other events or developments that the embassy would like to highlight?
We hope that the two countries will build upon the positive results the bilateral year has yielded. Russia and Holland have many common interests with regard to national, bilateral and international agendas, and these commonalities lie at the basis of our relations, they cement it. Quite naturally, we — as states and peoples — are different in a number of ways, we may see things differently. Acknowledging these differences, each other's values, principles and positions will be essential for maintaining the open and fruitful dialogue our countries have had and in taking it forward.