Queen Beatrix is in Turkey on a two-day visit as part of the celebrations to mark 400 years of diplomatic relations between the Netherlands and Turkey. Today, she will meet with students and scientists for lunch and this evening she is due to attend a dance performance followed by a reception for numerous participants in the cultural events organised to mark the anniversary.
The Netherlands' first diplomat to the Ottoman Empire, Cornelis Haga, was sent to Constantinople (now Istanbul) in March 1612. Since then, trade between the two countries has been strong. The Ottoman Empire defended the Dutch Protestant faith against persecution by the Spanish, giving rise to the Dutch saying “I’d rather be a Turk than a Roman Catholic.”
A visit by Turkish President Abdullah Gül in April was marred by comments made by Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders who called the president a “Kurd-basher and Hamas-lover” and said he was not welcome. In turn, in an interview with Dutch daily De Telegraaf, President Gül called Mr Wilders an “Islamophobe”.
The queen’s visit to Turkey ends on Friday, when she will travel to Italy to attend the wedding of her niece Caroline van Bourbon-Parma and Albert Brenninkmeijer.
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