Turkish president kicks off three-day visit to the Netherlands

Turkey’s president Abdullah Gül and his wife Hayrunissa arrived in the Netherlands on Monday for a three-day state visit to commemorate 400 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

On Tuesday morning the couple will meet queen Beatrix at the palace on Amsterdam’s Dam square before laying a wreath at the war memorial in the presence of prime minister Mark Rutte, the Telegraaf said.
Amsterdam’s mayor Eberhard van der Laan has evoked his emergency powers for the duration of the visit because of the risk of trouble between Dutch Turks and Kurds in the capital. There were several minor clashes between the two groups last year.
The visit has been the subject of much media speculation, with the Volkskrant and AD saying Rutte has a difficult job in the coming week: not only is he involved in negotiations to cut government spending, but he must also hope Geert Wilders does not step out of line.
Wilders’, whose anti-immigration PVV has a formal alliance with the minority cabinet, has said several times Gül is not welcome in the Netherlands.
In an interview with the Volkskrant at the weekend, Gül warned about the rise of ‘Islamophobia’ which he described as dangerous. But Gül refused to be drawn on Wilders directly.
‘Treating a certain race or religion as the enemy and xenophobia are illnesses which can have very serious consquences,’ Gül told the paper. ‘Look what happened in Europe during World War II.’
Wilders used the microblogging service Twitter to retort: ‘Turkish humour, Christian-teaser, Kurd-basher, Hamas friend and Islamic Gül complains about tolerance’.
Ironically, the visit will also include a trip to the Floriade horticultural show in Wilders’ home town of Venlo, where the president will open a special Turkish pavilion.

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