We remember September 21 in the Province of Drenthe as one of the most surprising and stimulating day of 2022, after visiting the town of Frederiksoord and the museum of Drenthe that reveals part of the Netherlands’ history, unknown for many of us.
The organisation of the trip was meticulous. Every minute spent among the people of Drenthe was valuable. It was part of the memorable commemoration of the 31st Anniversary of Armenia’s independence day organized by H.E. Mr. Tigran Balayan, who chose Drenthe to bring over 40 colleagues ambassadors, representatives of international organizations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and journalists to an outstanding day out to enjoy, under sunny day, all the beauty of the village of Frederiksoord and the Museum De Proefkolonie, visiting the cities of Westerveld and Assen.
“We learned everything about the colonies of Benevolence and what makes these colonies so special. After visiting this UNESCO World Heritage site, we got acquainted with the ancient treasures of Armenia, its culinary delights and sublime music that Tigran Balayan, ambassador of Armenia, brought us.” Said one guest ambassador.
The cultural day began with a visit to Frederiksoord village where we had the honour to meet Ms. Jetta Klijnsma, the King’s Commissioner in the province of Drenthe. She addressed the invitees with great enthusiasm offering a general overview of the history, the cultural and business live of the region.
After the Governor’s speech, the guests visited a museum dedicated to the Colonies of Benevolence which were recently awarded the status of UNESCO Heritage Site showing the history of Johannes van den Bosch and his Society of Benevolence of 1818 who wanted to offer to paupers in the Netherlands a chance for a better existence.
The Society founded the Colonies of Benevolence, calling it Colony Frederiksoord.
The event continued in Assen, where the ambassador of Armenia hosted a guided visit of the exhibition Under the Spell of Ararat. The treasures of Ancient Armenia from the Museum of Yerevan includes a unique relic from Noah’s Ark at the Drents Museum.
This remarkable exhibition was planned for years and was on hold during two more years due to the pandemic before landing in Drents Museum. Almost all the artefacts and pieces have never travelled out of Armenia. There were great expectations to see the relic coming from Noah’s Ark.
The wooden reliquary containing a piece of wood from Noah’s Ark is decorated with silver mounts and semiprecious stones. Etchmiadzin Cathedral has three pieces of the wood from the Biblical Ark. Tradition has it that the wood was found by Bishop Jacob of Nisibis (now Nusaybin in eastern Turkey) in the early fourth century AD. The bishop is depicted on the back of the reliquary holding a fragment of wood from the Ark in his left hand.
A reception was dedicated to the National Day of Armenia. During the welcome speech, Ambassador Tigran Balayan thanked the Governor for her warmth hospitality and support during the organization of the visit. “I would like to express our utmost gratitude to Ms. Klijnsma for the reception extended to us and for the opportunity to gather together in the beautiful province of Drenthe.
Thanks to this province, Armenia came to the Netherlands and this is the continuation of Armenia’s presence in the Netherlands. According to the records, the last time such a group of Ambassadors visited Drenthe was in 2009”.
He also referred to the difficult situation in which Armenia is celebrating its independence day as follows, “This year we celebrate the 31th Anniversary of our Independence in the gravest circumstances, when our nation is facing a military aggression in blatant violation of international law and order. Today, as we stand on the threshold of our next decade, the territorial integrity of our country is under an imminent threat. Today, as we stand against aggression and indifference we pay tribute to our friends. We are grateful to everyone that supported Armenia in this difficult situation.”
The ambassador also referred to the developments in the bilateral relations between Armenia and the Netherlands, highlighting the visit of the Prime Minister of Armenia to the Netherlands and the implementation of the agreements reached during the visit. “Despite all the difficulties, the year 2022 is also a remarkable one in terms of our bilateral relations with the Netherlands. This year we are celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. We took stock of the existing level of partnership and outlined the architecture of our future cooperation”, concluded Ambassador Balayan.
The official part of the event ended with an awarding ceremony. The Governor of Drenthe, Ms. Jetta Klijnsma, was awarded with the Medal of Honor of the Embassy of Armenia. The Director of the Museum, Mr. Harry Tupan, was awarded with the Gold Medal of the Armenia’s Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport, and Mr. Nikolay Romashuk-Hayrapetyan was awarded with the Medal of Honor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia for his contribution to the organization of the exhibition and for the promotion of Armenian Culture in the Netherlands.
The Embassy of Armenia has decided to celebrate Armenia’s National Day in different provinces each year. In 2021 it was celebrated in Eindhoven with the Dutch business community. In 2022, the celebration took place in Drenthe with the diplomatic community, with international organizations, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the medias. We are now waiting for Armenia to announce the 2023 National Day’s venue that is expected to be an interesting one.