The ambassador - Armenia

The ambassador

Jaap Frederiks

Dutch ambassador in Yerevan

See the curriculum vitae of ambassador Frederiks on (in Dutch).

As it undergoes a process of democratisation, Armenia offers all kinds of opportunities, including for Dutch business. At the same time, the resurgent conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh is causing a lot of tension in the country.

What were you struck by when you first arrived in Armenia?

‘I didn’t actually have a clear mental image of the country. My first encounter with the place was when I arrived in Yerevan in late August last year, at the dead of night. Yerevan is a lovely city, with beautiful buildings in the most unexpected places. There is barely any crime, and there are lots of restaurants, bars and a lively concert and opera scene.

‘Armenia is the oldest Christian country in the world (since 301). When it was part of the Soviet Union, people could not openly observe their faith, and that had an impact. Armenians mainly go to church for weddings and baptisms. On regular Sundays it’s more of a social thing. Families will go and visit a church somewhere like tourists, light a candle there and then go home to barbecue. Eating and drinking with the family is very important here, as is enjoying culture together. You see entire families at the opera, including young children.’

Why did the Netherlands decide to open a new embassy in Armenia?

‘Besides the fact that the Dutch parliament requested it, Armenia was the only country in the region where the Netherlands didn’t have an embassy. The revolution of 2018 and the new political direction here prompted a desire to change that. We want to support Armenia as it moves towards a democratic system and take advantages of the opportunities it has to offer, including for Dutch business. Armenia may be a small country, but its geographical position means it offers access to both the Iranian and Russian “markets”.’

The embassy has a staff of four, including two local employees. What is it like, working so closely with such a small team?

‘It’s great fun. We made sure we created as diverse a team as possible, with different competencies and interests. We all started more or less at the same time, in difficult circumstances. That really brings you together. And now that things are slowly but surely getting going, we’re reaping the rewards.’

Armenia is known for its diaspora. More Armenians live abroad than in their ‘own’ territory. Do you also deal with visas and other consular matters?

‘No, most of that is still done by the embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia. They are a larger embassy and have the equipment in place to deal with visas and other consular affairs. There are thirty thousand people with ties to Armenia living in the Netherlands, so it’s an important matter.’

What’s it like setting up a new embassy, and what are your priorities for the next few years?

‘First of all, you have to organise an awful lot of things. As soon as I arrived I started looking for a residence and suitable office space. Things were chaotic at the beginning. I had to go into quarantine because of COVID-19. Four days after I had presented my letters of credence to the president, the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh flared up again. Six thousand people were killed in the fighting in late 2020.

‘At the start my priority was to make new contacts. As a diplomat, it’s vital to have your own network. The embassy in Georgia gave me a list of organisations that the Netherlands works with here. That’s where I started. We also launched some small projects, which often have a lot of impact. We now have a clear idea of what issues we want to focus on over the coming years.’

What issues and projects are important?

‘We really want to improve economic relations with Armenia. There are lots of opportunities here for Dutch entrepreneurs in IT, agriculture, water, design and tourism. We’re trying to get investors and entrepreneurs in the Netherlands interested enough to come and take a look here. Willy van de Kerkhof, former footballer, businessman and honorary consul of Armenia in the southern Netherlands, visited recently.

‘We’re also working with Armenia on the development of democracy and the rule of law. We had a project in which we helped publicise the new Supreme Court to the Armenian public. This institution is a mainstay and hub of the Armenian legal system. The development of institutions like this is vital for the stability of the rule of law. The Dutch have an excellent reputation here because of The Hague, city of peace and justice.’

What is the human rights situation like in Armenia?

‘Generally speaking it’s good, though there are a few issues that need to be addressed, like LGBTI rights. Armenian society is pretty traditional. People here are not familiar with homosexuality, let alone transgender issues, and they don’t want anything to do with it. And despite the fact that women tend to be better educated here, there is a lot of gender inequality. Violence against women is quite common, but it’s not discussed. It’s regarded entirely as a “family matter”, so that’s a problem.

‘Press freedom is another concern. The oligarchs of the former regime still control 80% of the media. It’s difficult for the public to access reliable information.’

What do you hope to achieve with your new embassy over the next few years?

‘Besides building a network, we have to make our embassy and our work here more widely known. There are relatively few West European countries that have an embassy here; only France, Germany and Sweden. So I notice people are very interested in what the Dutch embassy is doing. After my first week here, my personal social media channels suddenly “exploded”, and I gained hundreds of followers.

‘On a personal level, I hope to see my family more often. My wife and youngest child are in the Netherlands, and we have three older children in higher education. We decided I would come out here alone first, partly because of the pandemic. I go to the Netherlands, or they come here, as often as possible, but it’s not ideal. Next year my son could go to the international school here, about 90 minutes from Yerevan, but it’s boarding during the week. He’s been to so many schools because of our BZ life that we’re now leaving the decision up to him.’


Frederiks, Jacob Rijkert Theodoor (Jaap) Date of Birth: May 28, 1959 Place of Birth: Putten, The Netherlands

Marital status

Mr Frederiks is married to Mrs Homeyra Frederiks. They have two children: Daniel (1994) and Hannah (1998).


  •  Ambassador Jaap Frederiks, (Jacob Rijkert Theodoor) is since August 2023 Charge d’Affaires at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Yerevan, Armenia.
  • ​​​Prior to this position Mr Frederiks was Special Representative for the Eastern Partnership (2020-2023).
  • ​​​​​​​From 2017 – 2020 he was Head of Mission at the Netherlands Embassy in Paramaribo, Suriname, with co-accreditation as Ambassador to the Co-operative Republic of Guyana (2017 – 2020).
  • ​​​​​​​Mr Frederiks was Charge d’Affaires a.i. in Kiev (2017), Ambassador to Tanzania (co-accredited to Madagascar, Mauritius and the Comoros) from 2013 – 2017 and Consul General in Sydney, Australia from 2009 – 2013.
  • Earlier on in his career Mr Frederiks was inter alia deputy Head of Mission at the Netherlands Embassy in Vienna, Austria and deputy director for environmental and energy policy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • He also served at the Netherlands Mission to the UN in Geneva, the Netherlands Embassy in Bangkok and Tehran and was seconded to the European Commission.


1983 - History, University of Utrecht


Dutch, German, English, French and Persian

Leisure activities and interests

Hiking , Tennis