Queen Beatrix has praised Turkey’s “great past” and the important role Turkey has played in the region and in the world. “Your country is a stable factor in a turbulent region in which existing powers and relations are constantly being challenged,” the queen told President Abdullah Gül. “To many your country is an inspiration and an example.''
Beatrix gave her speech during a state banquet in the Royal Palace on Dam Square in the centre of Amsterdam. The Turkish president and his wife Hayrünissa began a thee-day state visit to the Netherlands on Tuesday morning. After being welcomed, he laid a wreath at the war monument on the square. Hundreds of people, many of them Turkish immigrants living in the Netherlands turned out to see the president.
The visit marks 400 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Queen Beatrix pointed out that in spite of the “four centuries behind us, a period in which armed conflicts have exhausted our part of the world, relations between our two countries have always been peaceful.''
The queen hopes that numerous events, exchanges and contacts during the anniversary year will lead to Turks and Dutch people getting to know each other better. “Dutch people do not know much about the modern Turkey and I can imagine that your compatriots’ knowledge about the Netherlands is modest,” Queen Beatrix told President Gül. Nevertheless, she stressed that Dutch scholars have always been interested in Turkey’s language, history and culture.
Strict security measures are in place to prevent any disruption of the visit. A demonstration on a square in The Hague has been disallowed. However, demonstrators will be able to hold a protest on the Malieveld park. After Amsterdam, the president is due to visit the Hague, the Floriade horticultural show in Venlo and Maastricht. The president is accompanied by a large trade delegation.
His visit has been marred by comments from Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders who said he should not come as there was nothing to celebrate. He also insulted the president calling him a “Kurd-basher and Hamas-lover”. Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal called the comments “not particularly hospitable”. President Gül called Wilders an “islamophobe” in an interview with Dutch daily De Telegraaf on Saturday.
© Radio Netherlands Worldwide