Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s remarks on his arrival in the Netherlands (1957)

Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru is received by Dutch Foreign Minister Joseph Luns in the Netherlands on July 8, 1957 (© Wikimedia)

On July 8, 1957, Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru paid an official visit to the Netherlands. Dutch Foreign Minister Joseph Luns greeted him at Schiphol Airport and Radio Nederland was there too. Mr Luns was effusive in his welcome for what he thought was Mr Nehru’s first visit to this “small country in western Europe”. Unfortunately, the Dutch foreign ministry had not done its homework.

“Mr Foreign Minister, I am grateful to you and to your government for your welcome. I have been looking forward to this visit. It is not true that this is my first visit to this country. I’m sure you will forgive me if I contradict you. I came here about 30 years ago chiefly to Amsterdam, but that is a long time ago and much has happened since then. 

“I’m indeed happy to be here, to see this famous and beautiful country and to have occasion to meet the leaders of this country, to discuss matters of common concern with them.

“I do believe that the old divisions of Orient and Occident, East and West, Asia and Europe, all these count for less and less in this world of ours today when all of us live on each other’s doorstep. We are all neighbours of each other and the barriers that have separated us in the past gradually fade away, although I’m afraid it is a little more difficult sometimes for mental barriers to fade away than physical barriers. It is therefore necessary and desirable for understanding, and I have come here to seek the good will of your country and your people and to seek understanding.”