(The spoken version shall take precedence)
A Uachtaráin and Ms. Higgins,
Ladies and gentlemen.
It is with great pleasure and expectation that Her Majesty the Queen and I have come to Ireland. And we would like to thank You, President Higgins, Ms. Higgins and the Irish people, for the warm and heartfelt reception given to us.
Our first state visit to this beautiful country took place in 1992, and we have many pleasant memories from that occasion. We also had the pleasure of welcoming President Mary Robinson and her husband in Sweden in 1997.
In 1967, I had the privilege of celebrating my 21st birthday here in Dublin. At the time, I was a cadet on board the Swedish Navy training vessel HMS Älvsnabben. The birthday added to the very positive memories that I have from Dublin and other parts of your country.
President, our countries share many values and interests:
Ireland and Irish culture is much appreciated in Sweden. We esteem the part Ireland has played, and still plays, in world literature. You have received no less than four Nobel Prizes in literature; William Butler Yeats 1923, George Bernad Shaw 1925, Samuel Beckett 1969 and Seamus Heaney 1995. You are also rewarded with James Joyes who is regarded as one of the most influential and important authors of the 20th century. And today we have had the pleasure of gaining an insight into another exciting part of your cultural heritage, in the form of Gaelic games at Croke Park.
Another sign of the Swedish interest in your country is, of course, tourism – a most important industry for both our countries.
Last year, over 11 million people came to Ireland to experience its unique nature and culture. And of those visitors, I was glad to learn, my fellow Swedes account for a rapidly growing proportion.
Mr. President, Sweden and Ireland share many similar features. We were once poor agricultural countries with mass emigration in difficult times.
Today, both our countries have managed to transform into high technology social welfare states, with universities and businesses at the forefront in many areas.
From the past to the present, there is plenty to learn from each other.
During this visit Irish and Swedish Government representatives, as well as business leaders and experts, will meet and discuss collaboration in areas of mutual interest.
The topics include future health challenges, digital infrastructure and sustainable solutions in different areas.
And tomorrow, prominent writers and researchers will meet for interesting discussions at a literature seminar.
The Queen and I are very much looking forward to the rest of the program here in Ireland.
President, during your time as holder of the highest office in your country, You have gained great respect. Your personal integrity and defense of fundamental human rights is an inspiration to many. The Queen and I wish you and your wife good health and fortune in your important work .
A Uachtaráin, allow me once again to thank you for the exceptionally warm reception during our visit. You have indeed lived up to and exceeded your reputation of Irish hospitality.
It is my hope and conviction that this state visit will contribute to even stronger bonds and cooperation between our two countries.
To that I would like to raise my glass and propose a toast to the friendship between Ireland and Sweden: