I mourn former Prime Minister Wim Kok and give thanks for his life of visionary service. In the 1980s, he saw that the new forces shaping the global economy presented both great opportunities to the people of the Netherlands and severe challenges to preserving their bedrock commitments to equality, family stability, and social mobility. He developed innovative policies to seize the opportunities and meet the challenges, and had the strength and skill to build the consensus to implement them. His work inspired a new generation of leaders across Europe to address their challenges in a way that ushered in a new era of confidence and prosperity across Europe. I will always be proud to have worked closely with him as President to strengthen the deep bonds of friendship between our two countries and to promote progressive governance around the world. Because of his modest manner and respectful way of dealing with people, Wim Kok’s legacy is easy to underestimate in today’s rough, conflict-ridden world. We should do well to avoid that temptation and study more closely what he did and how he did it.
I extend my condolences to Rita, his children, and everyone who mourns his loss.