Felicitatie door Jan van Zanen bij het twintigjarig bestaan van de Cercle Cigogne, 4 oktober 2023


Your Excellencies,

Distinguished guests,


Twenty years ago, on 8 September 2003, my highly esteemed predecessor, Mayor Wim Deetman, and Bas Verkerk, Vice Mayor at the time, were witness to something special.

The first meeting of the Cercle Cigogne in this very Old Town Hall or Oude Stadhuis.

It was the brainchild of Maarten Auckerman, who had taken the bold step to launch something new.

Something that did not yet exist in The Hague: a ‘closed and exclusive association with invitees from business life, the professions, the government, local and national politics, the armed forces, the arts, diplomatic corps and judiciary’.

This ‘association’ (if I may call it that), was called Cercle Cigogne.

‘Cercle’ because this is not a club with members.

‘Cigogne’ because it truly belongs to The Hague.

The Cercle is not a forum for learning or discussing; it does not organise lectures or debates, for example.

No, people simply come together to see and talk to each other.

During Covid, we realised how much we, as social beings, need interpersonal contact.

Over the past twenty years, the Cercle has stood the test of time.

Thanks to the tenacity of Maarten Auckerman.

And thanks to you, those who form the Cercle.

And the ‘Cigogne’ will have helped too.

As you probably know, the stork is traditionally believed to bring good luck.

As the heraldic symbol of The Hague, it adorns the Sheriff’s Bench in the so-called ‘Vierschaar’ of this Old Town Hall.

Twenty years ago, Wim Deetman obviously had every confidence that the future had good things in store for the Cercle Cigogne.

He was right.

Congratulations on this anniversary.

And: keep up the good work.