Speech given by H.E. Ambassador Selçuk Ünal on the occasion of USAR.NL’s 20th Anniversary

Lahey Büyükelçiliği 03.06.2023

Honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs Hoekstra,

Distinguished and Brave Members of USAR,

Supportive Families of USAR,

Friends of the Humanitarian World,

It is an honour for me to be here today on this meaningful occasion, celebrating the remarkable 20-year journey of USAR.NL.

Thank you for inviting us to this important celebration. I was told that the Netherlands had decided to establish USAR.NL after the tragic earthquakes that struck Türkiye in 1999. That is why, your invitation means a lot.

Relations between Turkish and Dutch people go back to the formal establishment of diplomatic relations in 1612. However, the relations actually started in 1571. It is documented that the first contact has started in 1566.

On behalf of the Turkish Government and people, I extend our heartfelt gratitude to USAR.NL for its invaluable support following the recent devastating earthquakes in Türkiye. We would like to thank H.E. the Minister of Foreign Affairs, his Ministry and team, Ministry of Interior and Justice, Ministry of Defence, our Dutch friends who have shown their generosity with Giro 555 as well as the great contribution of the Turkish-Dutch community.

USAR team saved 12 people, 1 dog and a canary. In all beliefs of humanity, saving one life is saving humanity. So, you all saved not only their future families, but saved humanity.

In times of crisis, solidarity and compassion show themselves. We cannot forget the assistance extended by the Netherlands in our hour of need.

The Dutch government and the people of the Netherlands were at the forefront, extending their helping hands, providing their resources, and offering their expertise to assist in rescue and relief operations.

Moreover, it is essential to recognize that our bond goes beyond mere reciprocity. Our nations have stood side by side in times of calamity, transcending borders and demonstrating the true spirit of friendship.

When the Netherlands faced devastating floods, Türkiye was also always quick to offer support and solidarity, exemplifying the depth of our bilateral ties.

The Ottoman Empire had sent aid to the Kingdom of Netherlands during the very difficult days of the 1916 floods.

Türkiye again helped after the flood disaster in the Netherlands in 1953. The letter of the then Dutch Prime Minister Balkenende expressing his gratitude for the assistance is one of the symbols of this historical solidarity.

Likewise, Turkish associations and Turkish-Dutch community were quick in helping 216 families in Limburg who were affected by the floods in July 2021.

The collaboration between our countries, exemplified by the recent work of USAR.NL, is a testament to the power of international partnerships in times of crises.

It is through these collaborations that we can pool our resources, expertise, and unwavering commitment to save lives, alleviate suffering, and rebuild communities.

As we celebrate the remarkable achievements of USAR.NL over the past two decades, let us also reflect on the broader significance of our partnership.

The impact of our joint efforts transcends individual disasters and fosters a sense of unity, resilience, and hope that resonates with people around the world.

I would like to express our profound appreciation to USAR.NL for its extraordinary dedication and unwavering commitment to humanitarian efforts.

Together, Türkiye and the Netherlands have exemplified the true meaning of solidarity, friendship, and cooperation.

May this partnership continue to thrive and serve as an inspiration to others as we confront future challenges with unwavering resolve.

I would like to conclude by echoing a proposal of theTurkish-Dutch community. Many of the NGOs advised to found a Dutch-Turkish search and rescue team. I hope in your 30th anniversary there will be a different Turkish Ambassador standing here and commending the realization of this idea.

Thank you.


Monday - Friday

09:00 - 18:00

1/1/2023 1/1/2023 New Year
4/10/2023 4/10/2023 Easter
4/21/2023 4/23/2023 Ramadan
4/27/2023 4/27/2023 King's Day
5/5/2023 5/5/2023 Liberation Day (1945)
5/18/2023 5/18/2023 Ascension Day
5/29/2023 5/29/2023 Whit Monday
6/28/2023 6/28/2023 Feast of Sacrifice
10/29/2023 10/29/2023 Turkish National Day
12/25/2023 12/26/2023 Christmas