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The Netherlands and Turkey are commemorating the 400th anniversary of diplomatic relations this year. The first major event in this connection is the exhibition ‘Rembrandt and his contemporaries – The Golden Age of Dutch Art’ in Istanbul’s Sakip Sabancı Museum. The exhibition was opened this evening by President Gül of Turkey and the Dutch foreign minister, Uri Rosenthal.

In 1612, the Dutch envoy Cornelis Haga presented his letters of credence on behalf of the Republic of the United Provinces to the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, marking the start of a relationship focused on trade. Bilateral economic cooperation remains important to this day. The anniversary aims to boost the cultural and social as well as the economic ties between Turkey and the Netherlands.

Turkey is enjoying strong economic growth and, due to its strategic location, is a potential springboard to regional markets. The volume of trade between Turkey and the Netherlands has tripled in the past ten years. The Netherlands is one of the largest foreign investors in Turkey, which offers economic opportunities for, in particular, small and medium-sized companies, including those owned by successful Turkish-Dutch businesspeople. The anniversary celebrations will give special attention to these economic opportunities, for instance by way of trade missions. The focus will be on the sectors of water, the environment and waste management, energy-saving technology, agri-food, health care and the creative industry.

Apart from economic relations, there are a growing number of cultural and social ties. The Netherlands is home to 380,000 people of Turkish origin, and more and more Dutch tourists are taking holidays in Turkey. The anniversary also includes several performances and exhibitions by Dutch artists in Turkey – from the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra to the fine arts, from dance to musical theatre, and from the Nederlands Dans Theater to Dutch design. In turn, Turkish art and culture will be showcased at several locations around the Netherlands. There will also be educational and sporting exchanges between Amsterdam and Ankara, Deventer and Izmir, and Rotterdam and Istanbul, to name a few.

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