News24

Turkish president begins Dutch state visit

2012-04-17 19:30

Amsterdam - Turkish President Abdullah Gul began a three-day state visit to the Netherlands by laying a wreath at the Dutch national monument in downtown Amsterdam on Tuesday.

Gul's visit is the highlight of celebrations to mark 400 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The visit comes at a time that Prime Minister Mark Rutte's minority right-wing coalition government is reliant on anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders for support in parliament.

Gul is scheduled to meet Rutte in The Hague on Wednesday.

Accusations

In a weekend tweet, Wilders accused Gul of bullying Christians, beating Kurds and being a friend of Palestinian militant group Hamas.

The Netherlands is home to nearly 40 000 people of Turkish origin, many of them guest workers who have lived here for years and their children.

Amid tight security, Gul and Dutch Queen Beatrix inspected a guard of honor on the central Dam Square before the president and his wife laid a wreath and observed a minute's silence at the national monument.

Later on Tuesday, Gul was visiting an Amsterdam museum and giving a speech to a business forum before closing the day with a state banquet.

After visiting The Hague on Wednesday, Gul travels south to Limburg province on Thursday where he will visit the Floriade floral and agricultural exhibition before rounding off his trip in Maastricht.