By Eduardo Pizarro Leongómez, Ambassador of Colombia.
Their Majesties King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima paid an official visit to Colombia on 22 November. Their Majesties were received by the President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos and his wife María Clemencia Rodríguez de Santos.
President Santos expressed to the King and Queen the importance that this visit symbolizes, as it will allow to advance in strengthening the relations with the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which is a traditional partner and strategic ally within the European Union.
In addition, President Santos spoke with the King and Queen of the Netherlands about the progress of the peace process, for which His Majesty the King William-Alexander expressed an eventual support to the post-conflict process.
Besides these subjects, the agenda of the meeting also included issues related to cooperation with special emphasis on environment and water resources.
The visit to Colombia of Their Majesties was also an excellent opportunity to strengthen the relations with Caribbean territories of the Kingdom, with whom Colombia has an important agenda in different areas such as in agriculture, culture and education, infrastructure, oil and gas, health and tourism.
President Santos was also accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, María Ángela Holguín; and the Ministers of Industry, Commerce and Tourism; Finance and Public Credit; Mines and Energy; Environment and Development and Agriculture.
The delegation that accompanied the King and Queen of the Netherlands was composed by Frans Timmermans, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Michiel Eman, Prime Minister of Aruba; Ivar Asjes, Prime Minister of Curacao; Sarah Wescot-Williams, Prime Minister of Sint Maarten; and Robert Van Embden, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Bogotá.
Colombia and the Kingdom of the Netherlands established diplomatic relations in 1829. Both States have diplomatic representation in Bogotá and The Hague, respectively.
The Netherlands is a strategic partner of Colombia in water related subjects. The Netherlands supported the establishment of the National Policy for Comprehensive Management of Water Resources –PNGIRH, published in March 2010 and is currently developing a project for implementation and feedback of the planning of the PNGIRH through the formulation of the Strategic Plan for the macro-basin of the Magdalena – Cauca Rivers and the formulation and/or adjustment of four Plans for the Planning and Management of Basins.
The Kingdom of the Netherlands has historically provided cooperation to Colombia for the strengthening of the environmental sector. Such cooperation is reflected in the development of projects that have had great achievements, like the strengthening of the protected areas systems, the consolidation of planning and legislation processes in departments (provinces) and local areas, the consolidation of sociocultural, environmental and economic processes in the Colombian Amazon, the improvement of management of land in small rural communities, accompanying in the planning of coordinate use and management of the renewable natural resources.
Finally, it is important to highlight that the entrance of The Netherlands to the Pacific Alliance as an ObserverState, on 1st November 2013, will also contribute to strengthen the relations between the Kingdom of The Netherlands and the members of the Alliance and particularly with the Republic of Colombia. For additional pictures please click here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/98057281@N02/sets/