Turkey visit ‘sign of restored ties,’ says Dutch FM

By Tugrul Cam

ANKARA (AA) – The Dutch foreign minister has said his two-day visit to Turkey this week will show the mending of fences between Turkey and the Netherlands.

“The aim of the visit is to mark that bilateral relations between the Netherlands and Turkey have been restored,” Stef Blok told Anadolu Agency in a written statement ahead of his visit to Istanbul and Ankara set to start on Wednesday.

“We will be talking about things that bind us together, important issues on which we work together,” Blok said.

He added that among the topics that will be discussed are “security, migration, and of course the economy.”

“My visit to Turkey is a clear sign that we want to have channels of communication wide open, in order to be able to address issues that are important to both of us,” he added.

“As in every relationship, there are always issues we do not see eye-to-eye on. The visit is also an excellent opportunity to raise these issues with each other, and address concerns we have in these areas,” he said.

-'Focus on the future'

Relations between the two countries plunged ahead of the April 2017 presidential referendum in Turkey, when Dutch authorities canceled the flight permit of a plane carrying Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Rallies by Turks there in favor of constitutional changes to shift Turkey to an executive presidential system also faced tremendous restrictions from both central and local governments.

Turkey and the Netherlands decided that “our relationship is too important to keep looking at the past, and that we need to focus on the future now,” Blok added.

In September, Turkey and the Netherlands appointed ambassadors each other in a step to normalize relations.

-The Economy

On economic ties between the two countries, Block said: “I see a lot of potential there.”

“Turkey is a big market, which is close to the EU, in which there are many chances for Dutch companies to trade and invest.

“In addition, the Netherlands, with its favorable and innovative business climate, can be a good place for Turkish companies to invest,” he added.

“The Netherlands has many solutions to offer to challenges Turkey is facing, ranging from sustainable development to liveable cities and a more productive and efficient agricultural sector,” Blok said.

He underlined that the Netherlands is the biggest investor in Turkey. “Dutch and Turkish business associations have found the way to each other and are exploring how cooperation can be extended and deepened.”

“What we often see in this area, is that business people can really be a bridge between our two countries,” he added.

-Fight against terrorism

Pointing to “good cooperation” between Turkey and the Netherlands in the fight against terrorism, Blok said: “I am very well aware that Turkey is in a geographically very sensitive spot and is facing a real terrorist threat from organizations like ISIS [Daesh] and the PKK.”

“We exchange relevant information on a regular basis, which is essential to prevent together serious incidents from happening,” he added.

On Tuesday the Turkish Foreign Ministry confirmed Blok's visit, saying the agenda will include Turkish-Dutch relations, Turkey's EU process, as well as current regional and international issues.

Blok is to "pay a brief visit" to the Turkish parliament, which was attacked during the 2016 defeated coup attempt by the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the statement added.

FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

On Thursday, Blok and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will attend the TRT World Forum, which will feature more than 600 leading politicians, businesspeople, academics, activists, journalists, opinion leaders, intellectuals, and policymakers.