Thu Nov 3rd, 2005 at 03:18:49 PM EST
Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Amsterdam ...
... yesterday on a two-day state visit to the Netherlands aimed at boosting cooperation with the country that is one of Russia's key trading partners. The visit was in return to Queen Beattrix's visit to Moscow and St. Petersburg and a Dutch donation to renovate and do immediate roof repairs on the buildings housing the Hermitage¹.
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During this visit, the first state visit to the Netherlands by a Russian leader in 130 years, Vladimir Putin will hold talks with Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and meet with members of the Dutch royal family, the parliament and business community.
Economic cooperation will be high on Putin's agenda as he starts the visit with a meeting with prominent Dutch businessmen at the Great Industrial Club in Amsterdam to discuss the expansion of economic ties.
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Casual meetings bearing much fruit »»
Limousine Used During Visit
At least three documents are to be signed during the visit, including the third Russia-Netherlands Joint Action Program for 2006-2007, a 2005-2008 Joint Plan for Cooperation in Education, and a memorandum of understanding between the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research, Itar-Tass reported.
The Netherlands is Russia's second largest European trading partner after Germany. Russian statistics show that the trade turnover between the two countries was 16.6 billion US dollars last year. A large component will be most likely exchange of energy, im- and exports of gas through the existing pipelines. See Dutch gas resources of Slochteren, Drenthe.
An Engraving of the Tsar Peter House
in Zaandam, near Amsterdam
Putin will lay a wreath at the Dutch National Monument² to the victims of World War II at Amsterdam's central Dam Square. He will also visit the former residence of Russian czar Peter the Great, located in Zaandam.
Putin arrived in the evening of November 1 and attended a State Banquet in the Capitol The Hague given in his honor.
Today, he met with Dutch members of parliament, Prime Minister Balkenende and visited the seat of the United Nations International Court of Justice
The joint action program, to be signed by foreign ministers of both countries, includes sections on political dialogue, economy, trade and finances, defence, social affairs, education and culture. The first such program was signed when Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands made a state visit to Russia in 2001.
Moscow and The Hague are also working on a number of other cooperation documents concerning international automobile transportation and mutual protection of capital investments.
The visit will conclude with an official farewell ceremony hosted by Queen Beatrix³ at the Palace Noordeinde - the spot I stood to catch a glimpse of the world leader from Russia. As Dutch hospitalty knows no borders, the planning moved nearly one hour late.
Speech by Vladimir Putin on occasion of State Dinner tonight ::
Princess Anna Pavlovna, who became the wife of Wilhelm II, also met with just such a warm welcome in your country.
I would like to assure you all here at this reception today that many people in Russia have just such warm and attentive feelings for the Netherlands. Our people know well the names of the great Dutch seafarers, scientists and scholars and they have great esteem for the works of the Dutch artists that grace the world's biggest museums. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that millions of Russians have been raised on these finest examples of your culture.
The sails of harmony have always carried our peoples forward together, and today too, cooperation between Russia and the Netherlands is built above all on trust and a mutual desire to work effectively together.
We see our partnership with the Netherlands not only as an essential tie but also as a reflection of our loyalty to the values and the wonderful heritage that our historical friendship has given us.
During our discussions today we felt mutual confidence that we can move forward energetically and that we can, and will, make all the plans we have formed together reality.
Allow me to propose a toast: to the health of Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, to the health of His Royal Highness and his wife, to the health of the Prime Minister, to the health of all our Dutch friends, and may your wonderful country prosper and flourish!
The city heart
is quite busy as a commercial district
, Palace Noordeinde is part of the beating heart and very accessible to all people. Just a few dozen people waited for the moment Vladimir and his wife Lyudmila to leave the palace and enter his German build limousine - Mercedes Benz. For his security guards, the conventional armourplated Zil limousine with bullet-proof windows from the Soviet era was on stand-by.
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As all was quite casual - I knew I should have studied my Russian language - and I tried to chat with a handful of drivers and security persons standing near the car. I was hoping to hand a small bouquet of white rozes with three pages of friendly greetings intended for President Putin, through embassy employees - one page with an invitation to answer six questions of mine at BooMan Tribune! Haha ...
My Russian language failed me, and we could barely exchange who is I and who is you. LOL The scene of Tarzan in the jungle flashed through my memory: "Me Jane, you Tarzan!" Where it should be clear to all BooTribbers who was the gorilla today. It shows how quite relaxed the direct vincinity of the palace was, standing behind the gates of an open court yard not larger than a baseball infield. I figured it would have only been possible to hand the notes and flowers to the secret service, by intermediary of a model scantly dressed as Jane. Whatever.
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I will drop the info in the mailbox of the Russian embassy tomorrow, add an email to the Kremlin website and perhaps a reply will fly, who knows.
Interview with NRC Handelsblad - transcript
Update [2005-11-5 02:15AM PST by Oui]:
IHT - Putin expected to focus on energy in Dutch visit
AMSTERDAM Nov. 2 — Putin and his wife, Lyudmila, were welcomed by Queen Beatrix and her son, Crown Prince Willem Alexander, at the airport, and the group then drove to the royal palace in Amsterdam. Putin walked across Dam Square to pay respects to Dutch war victims at the national monument. The police had sealed off the square in the center of the Dutch capital hours before.
The Russian president was also to visit Zaandam, a town where Czar Peter the Great spent several months in 1697 studying Dutch shipbuilding.
Putin was repaying a 2001 state visit by Queen Beatrix. He had been due to visit in 2002, but the trip was postponed when terrorists seized 800 hostages at a Moscow theater in a siege that ended with 170 people dead.
Although Putin has made business trips to the Netherlands before, it is the first state visit by a Russian leader since Czar Alexander II in 1874.
Putin met Balkenende in The Hague a year ago, when the Netherlands held the European Union presidency, and the two had a sharp exchange when Balkenende raised human rights issues in Russia's war in Chechnya. An irritated Putin reportedly responded by questioning the Dutch leader about problems with the Muslim community in the Netherlands.
Talks between the two leaders this time were likely to skirt contentious issues and focus on developing economic ties. But the wars in the Caucasus will figure at least in talks between Foreign Ministers Ben Bot and Sergey Lavrov, with the Dutch voicing concern that the conflicts are getting closer as the European Union's borders expand.
Political talks will also touch on Iran and its nuclear program, officials said.
The Dutch gas company Gasunie is reported to be seeking a greater role in transporting Russian gas to Europe. Royal Dutch Shell has invested heavily in developing oil and gas fields around Sakhalin Island, a project that has been plagued by cost overruns.