Tijdens het webinar over Defense cooperation between France and The Netherlands op 25 februari sprak voorzitter NIDV Hans Hillen de onderstaande speech uit.

Inaugural address by Hans Hillen, president NIDV

Welcome to 200+ participants: industries, knowledge institutions and governments.

My special thanks go to the President of CIDEF, Stéphane Mayer: to Pieter de Gooijer, our ambassador who I envy because he is living in Paris; to Luis Vassy, French Ambassador to the Netherlands; both our national armaments directors Thierry Carlier and Arie-Jan de Waard and Jean-Marc Duquesne CIDEF and Jean Marie Dumon GICAN and of course Ron Nulkes of NIDV.

I am glad that we are developing a constructive dialogue between what we call the Triple Helix for Defence and Security of both France and the Netherlands. I firmly believe that bringing together our views and experiences will lead to more common goals and common interests.

This also goes for military industry. President Emmanuel Macron presented a European strategic autonomy. The consequence of this doctrine is a very well balanced cooperation, based on mutual esteem and respect, between the countries involved.

European unity covers countries with all kinds of differences in size, population, industrial level or whatever, so our unity is and will be unity in diversity.

This diversity cannot be translated into or understood in any form of ranking. Like a human body, all elements are equally needed to build the complete species.

Ladies and gentlemen, it seems to me that the recent Münich Security Conference underlined that the United States really are back on board of NATO. This is good news, I dare say, for the whole world. To put it in simple terms: a fast developing, but still divided global community needs some sort of a basic military balance. A disintegrating transatlantic alliance would really challenge that delicate balance.

It might also be really good news for our defence industries. A bashing ally is not an inviting ally. I think president Macron was right again when he stated that European strategic autonomy will make Europe a more reliable partner and strengthen NATO.

I do agree that my country too is still not ready to pay its two percent bill properly, but in The Hague, like in other countries, we are moving forward. But we should move forward by inviting ambition, not by dismissive punishment.

Mere fulfilment of promises, or sticking to the deal of 2% is not a very inspiring ambition. Discovering new possibilities and techniques, developing new ideas, working on new inventions is so much more inviting than the eternal business as usual.

Therefore, in order to make more and even more daring steps, I call upon industry and Knowledge Centres for challenge and inspiration.

Modern Defence and Security is creative and being built on more than the customer’s demand. R&D on the side of Knowledge Centres and businesses nowadays might offer astonishing solutions which are not yet in the mind or are even completely out of sight in governmental circles.

High tech security options need spiritual fantasy, yes even a revolutionary mind-set on the consumer’s side.

France and the Netherlands possess state of the art modern businesses on every scale. Both our countries are able to impress and to convince politics and people with daring steps forward on the defence hi-technical side. If we really wake up, we need not walk one day in the beggars’ parade to the voters for more attention and for more money.

Building security, both internal and external, should be one of the most inspiring businesses one can present in uncertain times.

What can Dutch industry offer? As a maritime nation we still have a self-creating maritime industry we are duly proud of. We present several self-creating industrial niches. High quality, innovative and competitive products for space, aerospace and ground systems can be found in our country on component level. As Defence industry we would like to further enhance these capabilities within a European context.

Together we are looking for cooperation to execute the European Defence Fund. Multinational teambuilding is adding to a spirit of building a safer world for us all.

This goes for both OEM’s and SME’s. This goes for Knowledge Centres. This goes for decision makers. Let’s have an impressive meeting today, and fruitful B2B talks in the afternoon, followed by lots of ground-breaking activities

Thank you for your attention.