President Gül, paying a state visit to the Netherlands upon the invitation of Her Majesty Queen Beatrix, was decorated the highest state medal of the country, the 'Order of the Dutch Lion’. Fulfilling his longing for Turkish community residing in the Netherlands, the President, enjoying great enthusiasm of the Dutch people during his visit as well, conducted several political and cultural activities and addressed Turkish and Dutch CEOs.
President Abdullah Gül and First Lady Hayrünnisa Gül paid a four-day official visit to the Netherlands upon the invitation of Her Majesty Queen Beatrix.
The President was welcomed by Turkish Ambassador to Hague Uğur Doğan, ADC of the Queen Patricia Lukken, Turkish Consul General to Rotterdam Togan Oral, Turkish Consul General to Deventer Nihat Erşen and other Dutch officials at Schiphol Airport.
OFFICIAL CEREMONY AT DAM SQUARE
Launching his official program the next day, President Gül was welcomed by Queen Beatrix with an official ceremony at the Dam Sqaure. After the ceremony, Queen Beatrix hosted a reception in honor of the First Couple. The President later laid a wreath at the National Memorial on the Dam Square.
GÜL DECORATED HIGHEST STATE MEDAL OF THE NETHERLANDS
The Queen later decorated President Gül the Netherlands’ highest state medal, the “Order of the Dutch Lion” and she also granted First Lady Hayrünnisa Gül the “Dutch Royal Medal.” President Gül, in return, handed Queen Beatrix the “State Medal of Turkey”. Afterwards, the Queen hosted a luncheon for the First Couple.
DUTCH MERCHANTS AND OTTOMAN SULTANS EXHIBITION
The President later opened the exhibition entitled “Levantine Chamber of Commerce, Dutch Merchants and Ottoman Sultans” along with Her Majesty Queen Beatrix in Amsterdam.
Exploring the photo exhibition as well, the President and the First Lady, after watching a short film on the historic trade relations between the two countries, signed the guest book in the museum. The First Couple and the Queen also explored the tulip garden specially arranged in front of the museum on the occasion of the President’s visit to the Netherlands.
GÜL ADDRESSES CEOs
President Abdullah Gül, as part of his schedule in the Netherlands, met with a group of Turkish and Dutch CEOs in the Netherlands. Attending the meeting were Dutch Crown Prince Alexander and his spouse, Princess Maxima, Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bağış, Food, Agriculture and Husbandry Minister Mehdi Eker, Dutch Economics Minister Maxime Verhagen, Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey Chairman Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu and Turkish businessmen including Hüsnü Özyeğin, Ferit Şahenk, Zeynel Abidin Erdem and Mehmet Sarımermer.
President Gül, during his address, referred to the historic relations between the two countries and said the existing trade volume they enjoy is over 7 billion dollars, revealing their wish to boost the bilateral relations between Turkey and the Netherlands.
TURKISH-DUTCH BUSINESS FORUM
President Gül, urging Dutch businessmen participating in the Turkish-Dutch Business Forum during his address to count more on Turkey and to conduct more investment in this country, shared his belief that Turkey and the Netherlands can establish partnerships in Turkey, her neighbors and other countries including the European ones.
Pointing to the historic friendship based upon robust grounds between the two countries and declaring the Netherlanders to be a “merchant nation”, the President said this country has a 500billion dollar export market and 400 billion dollars as an import rate. The Netherlands, he said, is one the world’s biggest economies and recalled that 400 years ago the then Ottoman Sultan issued a declaration that granted Dutch merchants a privilege to trade in the Ottoman territories, pointing to the existing trade volume reaching over the 7 billion dollar mark in trade volume between the two countries.
OFFICIAL DINNER FOR THE FIRST COUPLE
Delivering an address during the official dinner hosted by Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands held in his honor at the Royal Palace, President Gül predicted that his visit, crowned by the celebrations to mark the 400th anniversary of the bilateral relations between the two countries, will contribute to the mutual understanding between the two peoples, promulgating Turkey and the Netherlands to be two NATO allies and strong economic partners, enjoying excellent relations based on this historical background.
In the early 17th century, a great Empire, the Ottomans, and an entrepreneur maritime country, Holland at its golden age, sowed the seeds of a unique friendship based on peace and mutual respect, remembered the President, who further recalled that on March 14, 1612, a sailing ship arrived in Istanbul carrying the first Ambassador of the Dutch Republic, Cornelius Haga, to the Sublime Porte. Two months later, he continued, the Ottoman Sultan signed the unilateral declaration, or "ahitname", which granted the Netherlands the privilege of trade and free passage in the vast territories of Ottoman Empire.
FIRST LADY EXPLORES RESTORATION ATELIER OF THE ROYAL MUSEUM
Accompanying President Abdullah Gül on his state visit to the Netherlands, Mrs. Gül explored the Restoration Atelier of the Royal Museum and the Museum of Bags and Purses in Amsterdam along with Princess Margriet of the Netherlands.
Displaying great interest in the studies conducted in the ceramic, frames and furniture ateliers, the First Lady was accompanied during her visit by art critic and curator Beral Marda, the Sakıp Sabancı Museum Curator Nazan Ölçer and Prof. Dr. Günsel Renda of Koç University.
The Dutch conservator who visited the Turkish Presidency to examine the paintings and works in the Presidency’ inventory was present during Mrs. Gül’s visit as well.
The parties afterwards agreed to work in concert with each other as to the restoration and conservation of such works in both countries.
The First Lady later gave a wirework purse to the Museum of Bags and Purses where such items used from the 16th century onward are displayed.
GÜL MEETS WITH STUDENTS
Meeting with students from different universities of the Netherlands as part of his schedule, President Gül later visited the “Weekend Academy” established for the purpose of helping primary school students with their classes. Walking with the First Lady to the Great Industrialists Club on the other side of the Royal Palace, President Gül chatted with some 30 students some of whom are of Turkish descent and who continue graduate or post graduate studies at different universities in the Netherlands.
GÜL AT WEEKEND ACADEMY
The First Couple afterwards explored the “Weekend Academy” established for the purpose of helping primary school students with their classes.
Welcomed by Prince Crown Alexander and Princess Maxima upon his arrival at the academy, the President visited the classes where he also chatted with students some of whom were of Turkish origin and he taught them for 15 minutes and suggested that they learn Dutch, wishing them every success in life.
VISITS TO DUTCH SENATO AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Proceeding to The Hague after his program in Amsterdam on the second day of his state visit to the Netherlands, President Gül, during his visit to the Dutch Senate and House of Representatives, laid an emphasis upon the accomplishments the Turkish community has obtained in this country.
Averring his pride in the fact that Nebahat Albayrak, a Turkish-Dutch MP of the Labor Party, is the Chair of the Dutch Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Commission, President Gül further pointed to the position Mrs. Albayrak holds as a tangible demonstration of the faithfulness the Turkish community in the Netherlands feel for this country.
GÜL MEETS WITH DUTCH PM RUTTE
Holding a joint press conference with PM Mark Rutte of the Netherlands, President Abdullah Gül recalled that the Union’s decision to launch the negotiation process for Turkey’s accession was made during the Dutch term presidency in 2004, saying: “We will fulfill the necessary criteria for membership. Some EU countries will hold referenda, but what is important is that we can successfully conclude this process.”
Recalling that the Union’s decision to launch the negotiation process for Turkey’s accession was made during the Dutch term presidency, President Gül, underscoring the huge potential to be seized by both countries, referred to the great growth rates Turkey achieved in 2010 and 2011 which were 9 % and 8.5 % respectively. Turkey’s debt burden is 35 % of its GDP and its budget deficit is only 1.5 %, reiterated the President. “Turkey, unlike many European countries suffering from the global financial crisis, continued to grow, which is of great importance for not only the Turks themselves but also the peoples of the whole of Europe. Turkey as a member of the EU Customs Union offers a great opportunity to Europe so that they could come out of this recession.”
The President afterwards attended the luncheon PM Rutte hosted in his honor.
GÜL ADRESSES OPCW
Delivering a speech at the General Assembly of the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hauge the Director General of which is Turkish Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, President Gül promulgated: “Turkey does not wish to see any form of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) in its region and is categorically against the possession of those weapons. Attempts at developing or acquiring such weapons may well trigger a regional race for its possession, which in turn would lead to further instability threatening international peace and security.”
Drawing attention to the fact that Turkey’s geostrategic position renders it critical for regional and international security, including that of Europe, President Gül said Turkey’s cooperation and support in this field is vital in a wide geography stretching from the Eastern Mediterranean, to the Aegean and the Balkans and from the Middle East to the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Caspian.
Due to the complexity of their security environment, he further stated, Turkey also seeks protection from the WMD, all forms of terrorism and ethnic separatism. “Turkey does not wish to see any form of Weapons of Mass Destruction in its region and is categorically against the possession of those weapons. Attempts at developing or acquiring such weapons may well trigger a regional race for its possession, which in turn would lead to further instability threatening international peace and security.”
MEETING WITH TURKISH EXPATRIATES
President Gül afterwards fulfilled his longing with the representatives of the Turkish community residing in the Netherlands.
CONCERT BY TURKISH YOUTH PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA
The First Couple along with Her Majesty Beatrix enjoyed a concert performed by the Turkish Youth Philharmonic Orchestra (TUGFO) held at the Royal Tropical Institute on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the bilateral relations between Turkey and the Netherlands.
The program organized on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the bilateral relations between the two countries was presented by Dutch-born 2002 Miss World Azra Akın and the well-known photographer, Wilco van Herpen, who resides in Turkey. Azra Akın presented the program in Dutch while the latter in Turkish.
The concert performed by the Turkish Youth Philharmonic Orchestra included Dutch composer Hendrik Andriessen’s ‘Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Johann Khunau’; Argentinean composer Astor Piazzola’s ‘Melody in A Minor’ and Turkish composer Ulvi Cemal Erkin’s ‘Sinfonietta’. The orchestra ended their performance with ‘Gülnihal’ by Dede Efendi, a well-reputed Turkish classical musician of the 19th century.
VENLO WORLD HORTICULTURE EXPO 2012
The First Couple accompanied by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands proceeded to Venlo by train and they later arrived at the fairground where they were welcomed by Deputy PM Maxime Verhagen of the Netherlands and other Dutch officials, the First Couple and the Queen signed the guest book. After walking through the Dutch pavilion at the fairground, they proceeded to the Turkish Garden. Accompanying them were Turkish MP of the main opposition party, Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deniz Baykal from the southern province of Antalya, which is to host the World Horticultural Expo 2016; MP Menderes Türel of the running Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the director of the Antalya Horticultural Expo 2016, Osman Bağdatlıoğlu. Afterwards, the First Couple and Queen Beatrix officially inaugurated the Turkish Garden.
LUNCHEON FOR THE FIRST COUPLE
Afterwards, the First Couple and the Queen attended the luncheon given in their honor by Limburg Governor Theo Bovens.
Arriving in Maastricht 75 km away from Venlo, the First Couple and Queen Beatrix later proceeded to the Governor’s residence by walking across the bridge over the River Maas.
CENTRAL BANK ART COLLECTION EXHIBITION
After the luncheon, they inaugurated the Central Bank Art Collection Exhibition held at the Bonnefanten Museum, where they were welcomed by Central Bank Chairman Erdem Başçı and curator Stijn Huijts. A group of Turkish expatriates residing in Maastricht displayed great enthusiasm for the First Couple who chatted with them.
Queen Beatrix saw the First Couple off at the Maastricht Square with an official ceremony and she later accompanied them to the airport.
Having completed his official program in the Netherlands, President Gül left for Turkey.