Netherlands and Turkey mark 400 years of diplomatic ties

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The Netherlands and Turkey have expressed their support for the opposition in Syria. The foreign ministers of the two countries, Uri Rosenthal and his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu, met on Tuesday for the start of celebrations in the Netherlands marking 400 years of diplomatic relations.

Speaking at a press conference in Rotterdam, Mr Davutoglu said Turkey has taken in 10,000 refugees from Syria, adding that the biggest problem is reaching the people in the besieged city of Homs. The Netherlands is helping opponents of the Assad regime break through website blockades, although Mr Rosenthal would not give any further details about the kind of assistance being given.

Turkey's foreign minister took the opportunity to stress Turkey’s appreciation for Dutch support for Ankara’s EU membership bid. He said little about comments made by Dutch Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders in a newspaper article at the end of 2011, in which the anti-Islam politician said he saw no reason to celebrate the 400th anniversary of ties with Turkey.

Formal relations with Turkey commenced in 1612 when Dutch envoy Cornelis Haga presented his official credentials to the Ottoman Sultan. The Dutch foreign ministry website focuses on trade relations between the two countries and says they also have special links because of the 380,000 Dutch citizens of Turkish descent.

More than 350 events are planned to mark the anniversary over the coming year (under the NLTR400 banner), also with the aim of strengthening ties between the two countries. Starting on 10 March, the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam will host an exhibition of Turkish modern art entitled Istanbul Modern, while the Museum for Modern Art in Istanbul will exhibit works from the Boijmans Van Beuningen.


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Istanbul Modern - Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam from 10 March to 10 June 2012

La La La Human Steps - Istanbul Modern in Istanbul from 16 february to 6 May 2012