By Marjolein de Jong.
Deputy mayor for culture, inner city and international affairs.
September 7th was a very memorable day for The Hague. It marked the first edition of the Embassy Festival in The Hague, in which 23 countries participated. The most beautiful lane in Europe, our own Lange Voorhout, was the venue for embassies from Argentina to Finland, India to Thailand who presented themselves to the public. People could enjoy a wide variety of tastings and sample the culinary delights of the different countries.
It was a pleasure to see so many countries there after the city of The Hague was approached last year by a few countries to see if we could assist them in presenting themselves to the citizens of The Hague. As you may know, The Hague has 500.000 inhabitants from 140 different countries. Our city is the proud host of 160 international organizations and we are continuously working with them so that the inhabitants of The Hague get a feel of what these organisations do and what makes us the international city of peace and justice. The centennial anniversary of the Peace Palace, which is celebrated this year, brought a lot of activities, concerts and exhibitions to the city of The Hague. Every year the international organisations open their doors to the general public so people can get a glimpse of what is going on behind the scenes of the International Court of Justice or the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Whenever possible, I do my utmost to bring together the local and international community. To make things as easy as possible for the newcomers to our beautiful city, we have set up The Hague International Centre. They are located in the City Hall and can assist with things ranging from a parking permit to finding a school to arranging the paperwork that comes with taking up residence here. The Embassy Festival is a very pleasurable way of providing the interaction between the local and the expat community. I’ve heard that quite a few countries who were not present there this year were envious of the ones who were so I am sure that next years edition will be even larger.
For those of you who live here, it might be interesting to know that coming March 19th local elections will be held. All those EU residents who are registered here, are eligible to vote (and the same goes for non-EU residents who have lived here for over 5 years. If there is anything you would like to share with me, please do so and send me an email: email@example.com