Turkey's top diplomat yesterday said one of the great strengths of his country's bilateral relations with the Netherlands is their four centuries of history.
"The long history of Turkish-Dutch bilateral relation is one of our strengths going back over 400 years," Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said at the opening of the 7th meeting of the Wittenburg Conference in the Netherlands' capital Amsterdam.
"This year, as the Turkish side, we wanted to name the motto for this conference Turkish-Dutch Partnership 2.0," Çavuşoğlu said, thanking his Dutch counterpart Stef Blok for the hospitality. He added that the conference would set guidelines for future bilateral relations.
Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu recalled that the two countries agreed to intensify discussions on how to further enhance cooperation in various areas in 2008.
"A memorandum of understanding was signed between our predecessors to initiate the Wittenburg Conference," he noted, and said: "It aims at ensuring the enhancement of our relations and cooperation through meetings of specific working groups."
He went on to say that the conference also provides a ground for exchanging views on areas of common interest. "At the time of instability and uncertainties around the world and in Europe, both Turkey and the Netherlands can benefit a lot from these discussions," the foreign minister said, adding Turkey and the Netherlands would work together in "shaping dynamics" in the region for peace, prosperity and stability.
Attributing great importance to the conference, he said it enabled the sides to improve political, economic and social ties in various fields.
The Netherlands is Turkey's largest foreign direct investor with foreign direct investment (FDI) by Dutch companies totaling $24.6 billion from January 2002 to January 2019, nearly 16 percent of the total FDI, according to data from the Industry and Technology Ministry.
Çavuşoğlu also noted that he expected to "stand up together" against common threats and forms of exclusion, such as ethnic and religious hate, discrimination, extremism, xenophobia and Islamophobia.
"In addressing such widespread challenges, Turkey will continue to stress the need for transparency, diversity, dialogue and inclusive policies," he said.
The foreign minister was also due to meet representatives of Turkish nong
overnmental organizations (NGOs).
Dutch Foreign Minister Blok, for his part, said bilateral relations were built on strong pillars just like the building they were in, referring to the National Maritime Museum, which was built in 1656 during Ottoman times when the Netherlands appointed its first ambassador to the empire.
Noting that "the building alone has been supported by 2,300 pillars" for centuries, Blok said: "It is an image that reminds me of the relationship between our two countries. Strong pillars supporting a strong friendship "Like this magnificent building, our relationship is not built on just one or two pillars; it's built on many," the Dutch foreign minister said. Blok said one of the main pillars is the shared history and the other is the fight against terrorism.
Commercial partnerships and combined efforts to build a more peaceful world were also among the pillars, he said, adding that cooperation in the field of migration was also very important.
"Other pillars include our dialogue on important issues like human rights, the r
ule of law and cultural exchanges. But I believe the strongest pillar of all is our people and the many lasting connections that we have made," the Dutch minister added.
"Some of the pillars might weaken or even collapse, sometimes pillars need to be reinforced for repairs. Fortunately, given the right conditions, most pillars will last for hundreds of years," he went on to say.
Within the scope of his visit to the Netherlands, Çavuşoğlu also opened the Turkish Consulate General in Amsterdam.