Illona Weiss Synagogue
    Conference room
    Jewish Cultural Center "Arie Livne"
Tuesday, 18 April 2017 13:28


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On April 12th 2017, in Jewish cultural centre “Arie Livne” H.E. Jurriaan Kraak, Dutch ambassador in Bosnia and Herzegovina, held a lecture titled “Globalization and myself - 39 years as a Holland diplomat”. The lecture was attended by the president of the Jewish Community of Banja Luka, the director of the JCC “Arie Livne” Djordje Mikeš, the president of the Serbian-Jewish Friendship Society prof. dr. Aleksandar Lazarević, as well as the guests from public, cultural and political life of the city and of the Republic of Srpska.


Jurriaan KraakAt the beggining of his speech, ambassador Kraak assured the audience that he will try to answer the questions such as how the globalization affected him both personally and professionally and what the position of his country is today in the world in a political, economic and diplomatic way. He also commented the events from the past of the country he is presenting in Bosnia and Herzegovina. “I dare to say that the Dutch were “globalized” a long time ago. Here are some examples: Baltic trade, which would say 500 years of intensive goods trade between the hanseatic cities of the Holland Republic and the Baltic Sea region, ensured the financial basis for the expansion of trade overseas. The Dutch sailed halfway across the world to the island of spices (eastward to the West Indies), which is today the territory of Indonezia and found Tasmania, New Zealand and parts of Australia. This is how we were introduced to pepper, cinnamon and saffron, at the time the merchendise available only to the wealthy. That is how the term “expensive as pepper” was coined. We were in North America, so New Amsterdam became New York, and Wall Street, Bronx, Yonkers and Harlem are all Dutch words. Sometimes along the way we exchanged New York for Surinam with the British, and we exchanged Manhattan for Paramaribo, which was one of the worst deals in history. The Dutch have for centuries maintained settlements, trade centres and bases of support for our trade fleet in India and Ceylon (Sri Lanka), in Brazil and in West Africa. The southern tip of the African continent, Cape Colony, was developed by the Dutch immigrants,“ said the ambassador presenting the historical role of the Netherlands in the field of trade market.
He emphasized that the Holland Republic, and the Kingdom of Netherlands later on, was a world colonial power for 350 years thanks to their properties in India (Holland's East), which consisted of the islands of Java (where ambasador Kraak was born), Sumatra, Borneo, Celebes and that the management of the colonial empire was at first multinational (VOC – Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie or the United East-Indian Company). All the events from the past made Holland the second largest exporter of the agriculture goods today, and the fifth largest exporter of all goods. According to all parameters it is one of the most open economies of the world because 1/3 of its GDP comes from the export of goods and services. Some corporations merit mentioning, such as “Unilever”, “Shell”, “Philip’s”, and one “true brand”, “Heineken”. However, in the world of global flexibility in the field of economy, which caused economic upswing of the countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Turkey, as well as some countries in Asia (India, China, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand), it is necessary to keep Holland’s leadership position and its security.
024“This global orientation, the “think global” motto, the Dutch have outgrown it over the centuries. Holland is the country with average power with an open society and an open economy, and as a result my country is extremely sensitive in regards to global movements, both positive and negative. Namely, our dependence on export forces us to feel the state of global economy directly. As I said, Netherland has an open society and an open economy and that’s why it is very susceptible to global movements which are affecting our security and the sustainability of our lifestyle. When it comes to security, we have open borders. People are free to move as they will, and a potential side effect of that kind of freedom is facilitating the emergence of terrorism, cybercrime and hybrid threats. Borders of Europe contain fragile countries and non-liberal democracies which can be a source of instability and can directly affect the Netherlands. A demographic explosion in Africa is not negligible. Birth rates have gone down almost everywhere in Europe, but the African continent does not follow this pattern. Today Africa has 1,2 billion people, while in 1980 it had 477 million. The population growth will enable them to refill a city the size of London five times a year. Climate changes, wars and revolutions in Arabic world, as well as the humanitarian crisis will induce refugee flows toward Europe, including Holland.”
“The Dutch are aware that they are a toy in the globalized world. How to react toward that eternal, constant factor? We were forced to choose between being neutral versus aligning with other, much more powerful nations.” This was both a statement and a question at the same time and ambassador Kraak stated the following. “First, we have tried to be neutral which is good for business. We tried to be friendly and to trade with everyone. We applied this recipe in the period after Napoleon and until the World War I. We succeed in being neutral during the World War II. But in 1940 Hitler did not respect our neutrality and he attacked our country, and occupied it during five very miserable years. After 1945 we were looking for salvation through establishing powerful transatlantic relations with the USA and Canada, especially within the NATO, in strengthening global multilateral systems such as the UN, in supporting the world’s legal order which resulted with Haag as an international legal capitol of the world. One could say that the membership in the European Union was especially profitable for Holland. It was followed by the modernisation of agriculture, transition from the manufacturing into the service- oriented economy and the development of our transport infrastructure which was co-financed from the European funds. We have unlimited access to common trade market of 550 million costumers. All of that encouraged our export sector. We truly believed in useful effects of development cooperation with the countries of the Third World and over the years Holland was the main donator to the developing countries. Dutch authorities were actively stimulating emigration in the moment when the country had 11 million citizens because there was a risk of serious overpopulation. Today we have 17 million citizens in a country the size of 2/3 of Bosnia and Herzegovina and no one thinks that emigration is an answer.”
And as for how globalization affected Mr Jurriaan Kraak and what it meant for his career as a diplomatic representative of Holland in the countries where he worked over his lifetime, and even today when he is active in B&H, this is what he had to say.
019“I would like to mention a few global trends which are a part of the total globalisation phenomenon of and which deeply influenced both my private and professional life. Less than three weeks ago, on March 25th, we marked the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. The Europe experiment was a part of my life. It aimed to stop wars. For example, France and Germany were on each other’s cases for 150 years. One of the responses was to put the manufacturing of coal and steel, and effectively national arsenals, under the control of Europe. The French-German friendship was one of the biggest successes of the second half of the 20th century. I still see the ideal of Europe whole and free as a very motivating concept. I had the privilege of working in the Netherlands’ permanent representative body in the European Community, and later in the European Union. We have worked on actualizing the support programs of the EU when it comes to the new democracies of the Eastern and Central Europe. Later on we tackled the issues related to the expansion of the European Union. I am old enough to remember Hungarian immigrants in my kindergarten. As a boy who lived near an American air base between 1953 and 1964, I could distinguish between American, British and Dutch planes. During the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1961 I saw strange and diverse planes and I knew that something not good was happening in the world. I also remember grownups talking about the heaviest nuclear bombs, the hydrogen bomb and radiation. I remember when as a student I was hitchhiking through the countries of the Eastern Europe, the countries of the Warsaw Pact, the countries of “our enemies”, and then I found out that the “enemy” wasn’t as monolithic and frightening as we were led to believe.”
The first year of service in the Netherlands’ Foreign Affairs office and doing his internship in the Embassy of Holland in the East Berlin was, as he described, a very enlightening experience. That is also one of the moments of globalisation which left a mark on life and work of ambassador Kraak. “I observed communism, or its Eastern German interpretation, from close up in its hypocrisy. I attended the performance of Puccini’s Turandot. There was real cotton, real wool, real silk and real leather on the scene. For the audience there was 200% acryl clothes and plastic shoes. I met the members of a very privileged class, DDR officials who were driving Golfs and Volvos and lived in spacious apartments in Berlin and spent weekends in their dachas (a Russian cottage) on the lakes north of the city. They travelled around the world as the members of the DDR, the Association of Mexican or Indian friendship, and they complained about the oppression and exploitation of the laborers in my country. As I mentioned before, it was very enlightening and informative.”
The fall of the Berlin Wall was a historic opportunity according to the ambassador. In this period the Netherlands’ Foreign Affairs office was very active in the field of arms control, reduction of armaments and disarmament.
002“This is a phenomenal story about success which is not well-known among the wider audience. My colleges initiated the disposal of the bombs and found the ways to get rid of the huge surplus of conventional, nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, just as my parents dreamed in the 60’s. Between 1995 and 1999 I was once again appointed to the Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to NATO in Brussels. Russian became the working language of some forums in the NATO. One could hear Russian even in the Joseph Luns Auditorium, a room named after a famous Dutch fighter from the cold war time. I was sure that old Joseph would turn in grave if he knew what was happening. I participated in working groups with the Ukrainian, Czech, Polish, Romanian, and Bulgarian and with people from the former East Germany. That still motivates me to cooperate with our former enemy. And all of this took place in the NATO headquarters where not so long ago there were meetings of dozens working roups during which the representatives of the member countries were discussing the ways to bomb, burn, radiate and fragment “the enemy”. That didn’t happen. I was proud because I had participated in that process. ”
Post Cold War period were the best years for international diplomacy. Delors’ plan for the unified European market coupled with the economic expansion in Europe resulted in a single currency. “In those years everything looked possible,” declared the ambassador. “In foreign politics the Netherlands became a pioneer when it comes to effective and mixed defence, diplomacy and development. I know that people in this part of the world will not agree. They look at this period from a different perspective. Wars in former Yugoslavia pointed out the weaknesses of the new world order, especially when it comes to the efficiency of multilateral interventions in crisis. The Netherland was also marked by the participation in the Srebrenica tragedy. In the meantime my country lost its naiveté and learned bitter lessons when it comes to the new world order. That’s why we were more careful participating in missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
At the end of his lecture ambassador Kraak pointed out another globalization issue which affected him, the issue of global financial crisis, euro scepticism and populism.
004“I am proud to say that after eight tough years notable for the lowering of budget and labor Holland’s economy is recovering. Our economic activity is growing and unemployment rates are dropping. As you know, there is nothing more satisfying for us than to be better than Germans, especially in football. This happens rarely but our economy is now better than theirs. Euro scepticism is present and we need to find the answer to where Europe ends, both in terms of authority and territory. I can see a strong connection with populism which is not just an emotional moment, but is based on rational decisions and rational considerations. Partially, populism is an expression of rational people’s genuine concern about their identity and their culture. All of the notions mentioned are the reason for the necessity of thinking about the finality of Europe. How many new members can the EU have? Is it necessary to have impenetrable external borders to keep the support of the citizens? It is politics that should provide rational answers. In any case, Europe will have to become something else, a necessity if the Project Europe is to be continued, that unique project which has been my companion for so long.” He mentioned the importance of monitoring climate changes stating how big of a challenge the battle against global warming is. He characterised the Netherland as directly affected by this global phenomenon because, as he said, at landing at the Amsterdam airport one finds oneself 21 meters below sea level. “I would prefer to leave this big change in nature to the new generation of diplomats and global citizens to find the best solutions.”


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Read 5049 times Last modified on Tuesday, 04 July 2017 13:57