By Dr. Eugenio Matos G. Honorary Associate Publisher of Diplomat Magazine, Minister Counselor, Dominican Republic Embassy, The Hague.
From 7 to 9 December 2013, Prime Minister Mark Rutte visited Israel to launch bilateral cooperation forums with the two administrations. He was accompanied by Frans Timmermans, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lilianne Ploumen, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation and Henk Kamp and by Minister of Economic Affairs who joined later on the Mission.
Mr. Rutte and his companions rode on bicycles, rented by the TelAvivMunicipality along Rothschild Boulevard. They were guided to see Bauhaus-style buildings in the boulevard near the statue of late ex-mayor Dizengoff. On the picture above, behind Mr. Rutte, is Israeli Ambassador to the Netherlands H.E. Haim Divon. They also stopped to have soft drinks and coffee in one of the stands on the street. The tour ended in the Shalom building, where Mr. Rutte was exposed to a presentation of Israel’s start-up industry.
Prime-Minister Rutte said that Tel Aviv is a charming city. “The combination of the people, architecture, relaxed atmosphere and the sea is simply wonderful” added Mr. Mark Rutte. When asked about the rental of bicycles by the TelAvivMunicipality, he said that in this matter he has only one message to transmit: “Keep doing it”.
There is precedence to this Israeli Public Diplomacy strategy. On August, 2013, Ambassador Divon had the idea to invite some of his colleagues and close friends to join him for a bicycle tour in downtown The Hague. Diplomat Magazine’s editor Roy Lie and photographer Robert Huiberts got this exclusive report https://diplomatmagazine.eu/2013/09/01/cycling-diplomacy/ enhancing Israel Public Diplomacy in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
As an “adopted Dutch cyclist” it is very common for me to watch ambassadors and diplomats commuting by bike not only to work, but also to formal diplomatic receptions. The Ambassador of Mexico, H.E. Eduardo Ibarrola-Nicolin, regularly bikes from his residence in Wassenaar to the Mexican Chancery on Nassauplein 28. It is quite easy for the subscriber to spot when H.E. Dr. Alvaro Marcelo Moerzinger, Ambassador of Uruguay is around, not because of his CD license-plate on his car, but to his personal gray alloy-bike. Indeed, a new concept on International Relations has born, Cycling Diplomacy, instilled by Ambassador Divon, from the City of Peace and Justice, The Hague.