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Beyond Borders: Ambassador Rogers on Ireland’s Dynamic Partnership with the Netherlands

H.E. Mr. Brendan Rogers, Ambassador of Ireland to the Netherlands

Diplomat Magazine had the privilege of interviewing H.E. Mr. Brendan Rogers, Ambassador of Ireland to the Netherlands. In this insightful discussion, Ambassador Rogers shed light on various aspects of Ireland’s diplomatic engagement with the Netherlands.

Reflecting on the longstanding diplomatic ties between Ireland and the Netherlands, Ambassador Rogers emphasized the rich history of collaboration and friendship between the two nations. “One of my first tasks as a young Irish diplomat was to accompany the President of Ireland on a State Visit to the Netherlands in 1986! King Willem Alexander paid a State Visit to Ireland in 2019. Diplomatic relations were established in 1945 and the first Ambassador was appointed in January 1950.” Ambassador explained.

“Ireland and the Netherlands are partners within the EU and within larger multilateral contexts such as the United Nations and other international fora. The Netherlands has been a strong supporter of the Irish Peace Process.  Ireland and the Netherlands have worked closely on development cooperation, especially in Africa.

There are about 13,000 Irish citizens living, working and studying in the Netherlands, contributing to Dutch life. However, nothing must be taken for granted and both the Dutch and Irish Governments work hard to maintain and sustain a strong relationship.”

In his role as Ambassador, Ambassador Rogers outlined key diplomatic priorities aimed at deepening mutual understanding and cooperation between Ireland and the Netherlands.

“In the modern world, with instant communications and information at one’s fingertips, it has been posited that perhaps classic diplomacy might be outdated. After all, comprehensive information on all aspects of Dutch life is available online!

Diplomacy is a human enterprise, rooted in interactions between people.  These personal and professional relationship networks are the building blocks which facilitate mutual understanding between States. Building trust, understanding, and respect for differences, mutual cooperation and collaboration cannot be achieved online!

For Ireland in the Netherlands a key priority for me has been to ensure that the optimal relations between Ireland and the Netherlands, which has existed for decades is maintained.”

Economic engagement between Ireland and the Netherlands emerged as a central theme, with Ambassador Rogers emphasizing the substantial trade volume.

“Trade between Ireland and the Netherlands is over €40 billion in goods and services. This is a huge amount of economic engagement between both countries and each country is one of the largest markets for the other. Ireland exports over one billion Euro in food and drinks alone to the Netherlands. The Netherlands is our third largest market of for Irish owned enterprise. Economic engagement is therefore intensive and growing. Tourism is also a growth sector and over a quarter of a million Dutch tourist visit Ireland each year.

The sector ripe for growth, in my opinion, is the that of renewable energy and particularly Green Hydrogen. The Netherlands is advancing rapidly in this area. Ireland has an abundance of wind energy potential, particularly off our west coast. While we have made progress on this during my tenure, the challenge now is to facilitate the necessary connections and opportunities to build on cooperation in this sector.

At the practical level this has meant a number of actions and priorities:

  • Building and expanding upon the strong trading relations between both countries. We have been working on new areas of growth such as sustainable energy and a number of Memorandums of Understanding have been signed between key ports of Rotterdam and Amsterdam and a number of ports in Ireland.
  • Travelling throughout the Netherlands meeting local leaders and the Irish community and getting a real sense of the heartbeat of the country.
  • Facilitating reciprocal visits between both countries at every level. In my time here PM Rutte has been to Ireland and a number of Ministers have travelled in both directions.
  • Promoting Irish cultural awareness in the Netherlands and in the last few years we have organised and promoted literary, music, fashion and dance events. Two of our Irish national holidays celebrating St. Patrick and St. Brigid have provided superb platforms on which to showcase the best of Ireland.
  • Understanding and engaging with the Netherlands on a range of issues relating to the EU and more general international affairs of imports to both countries.”

Beyond diplomatic endeavors, Ambassador Rogers highlighted Ireland’s soft power influence.

“I think Irish people have a certain gift for forming friendships. When I am speaking to our Irish communities here, I always remind them that while I may have the title of Ambassador, they are the real Ambassadors for Ireland. The perception of Ireland that exists in the Netherlands is the result of the sum of all the individual and collective actions of the Embassy, our State Agencies, our private sector, our cultural ambassadors (writers, musicians, dancers, artists, poets, sports persons,) and together they form the basis of the bilateral relationship between Ireland and the Netherlands. I’m very proud to be part of that.”

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