Presentation of Letters of Credence (Kingdom of the Netherlands, Republic of Finland, Republic of Mali, Republic of Kosovo) (The Citadelle)
The Citadelle, Monday, October 3, 2016
It’s wonderful to welcome representatives from the Netherlands, Finland, Mali and Kosovo to the Citadelle today.
I’ve had the privilege of meeting with officials from each of your countries during my mandate, and I look forward to continuing the conversation with each of you.
You may be interested to know this building we’re gathered in has an interesting diplomatic history.
It was here that the Quebec Conference took place in 1943. Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and William Lyon Mackenzie King came here to discuss tactics and strategy for what would be the beginning of the end of the Second World War.
Today, we face unique challenges as nations and as a global society. That is why dialogue is such a vital part of our relationships, and why I’m delighted to see you in Canada.
Ambassador van der Zwan, I’m pleased to greet a career public servant. You have a wealth of experience, both domestic and international, which will serve you well in Canada. I remember my State visit in 2014 to the Netherlands with great fondness—such a great country and a wonderful people!
Canada and the Netherlands have so much in common. In addition to our people-to-people bonds and our military history—including Canada’s role in the Liberation of the Netherlands in the Second World War—we have strong ties as defenders of freedom, human rights, good governance and the rule of law. We also have many academic ties of which to be proud, including some 160 agreements between our universities—to say nothing of the hundreds of Canadian and Dutch youths who are studying in one another’s countries. We’re partnering on so many fronts, and I’m pleased that you will be continuing to find ways for us to work together.
Ambassador Lehtonen, you are carrying on a proud and long-lasting partnership between our countries. Though it’s been nearly 100 years of diplomatic relations, I know there is more we can do to collaborate. Your experience as a diplomat will serve you well during your stay here. I hope you and your family will take the time to explore Canada, as there’s so much to discover!
Canada and Finland have many similarities. We’re both bilingual nations; we share commitments to democracy, security and the rule of law; Canadian and Finn indigenous peoples work closely together on preserving culture, language and heritage. As well, we are both Arctic nations, committed to such organizations as the Arctic Council, for which Finland will become chair in 2017. And, of course, we share a passion for hockey! During your president’s visit to Canada in 2014, we spoke of our relationship and our potential for more collaboration. We look forward to expanding our close ties in many areas as you assume your new role.
Ambassador Diarra, your familiarity with Canada goes back more than a decade. Your career has allowed you to work with Canadians here and in Mali to better the lives of your citizens and to create new opportunities for them to succeed. In turn, you have solidified the friendship between our nations.
Mali and Canada are working together in multiple fora, including La Francophonie and the United Nations. We are also collaborating closely on matters such as security and sustainable development—which your country has identified as priorities. I was also delighted to speak about common goals with the Prime Minister of Mali recently in Montréal at the Fifth Replenishment Conference of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis. While in Canada, you will meet with Canadians to find new ways to partner, which includes strengthening our commercial ties. And I know that Canada will continue to support Mali in addressing humanitarian needs as friends and allies. I welcome you to Canada and hope you find your stay both productive and enjoyable.
Ambassador Hiseni, you are no stranger to this country. Already, you have advanced our relationship through the opening of Kosovo’s Embassy in Ottawa earlier this year. I’m also interested in speaking with you about your career as a French translator. As you may know, we honour the very best in Canadian translation with the Governor General’s Literary Awards, which may certainly interest you.
The relationship between Kosovo and Canada has a great potential for growth. Our country was proud to have been one of the first to recognize Kosovo’s independence, and we continue to support you on the world stage, particularly as you make progress towards Euro-Atlantic integration. On that note, it was wonderful to engage recently with the President of Kosovo in Toronto. We are also pleased to see Canadian companies take an interest in commercial opportunities presented by your energy, mining and infrastructure sectors. I look forward to speaking with you about future co-operation.
In closing, allow me to congratulate each of you on your new posting. I know you will find Canadians hospitable and our country fascinating in all its great diversity.
I also want to thank you for being here to learn about Canada and to share your country’s unique perspective. Let’s all work together towards a fairer, more just and peaceful world.