A presidential trip by an outsider eye

A presidential trip by an outsider eye

Wilco Van Herpen AMSTERDAM - Hürriyet Daily News
A presidential trip by an outsider eye

This photo shows the Dutch delegation as they are getting ready to welcome Turkish President Abdullah Gül and his wife Hayrünnisa Gül. Hürriyet Daily News photo by Wilco Van Herpen

I was filming at Tuz Gölü (salt lake) when my mobile rang. I was invited by President Abdullah Gül to join a delegation that would visit the Netherlands. I couldn’t believe what I heard, but three weeks later I sat in the presidential plane and flew with Gül, his wife and 200 other people to my home country.

We left from Ankara and during the flight, Gül took a tour through the plane, welcoming everyone. It was the first time I shook his hand and more importantly… was able to look him in the eyes. What I saw was a man with sparkling, shining eyes that look directly at you. I liked him. Gül is the way I imagined him to be.

Finally we arrived in the Netherlands where special limousines and shuttle buses were waiting for us. This was the first time I would enter Holland without passing through customs or showing my passport. The whole convoy was accompanied by police on motorbikes. Everywhere we went traffic was brought to a halt until we went on.

When I saw the Amstel Hotel I felt excitement. For so many years I had wished to stay there and finally, there I was. It felt like I was a stranger in my own country.

Even during a trip like this one it is very difficult to see or speak with Gül. There is always something going on and someone to listen to. It was in the museum during the opening of a beautiful exhibition about Dutch pioneers in Turkey, that Gül took me by the arm and introduced me to the queen. “This is a man who makes a television program that I like very much,” he said. I was flattered and spoke a couple of words with Gül and Queen Beatrix.

Later, everyone went back to the hotel to change clothes. It was time for the special dinner given by the queen and everyone was required to wear tailcoats. I went to my room and went through quite a struggle to get everything on.

When we drove towards the Palace on the Dam, police again escorted us. I am sure that all of us felt like princes or princesses.

Dinner at the palace
At the Dam Square we were welcomed by butlers and guards. They saluted us as we entered the palace. Finally I was there, the majesties’ “house.” A long hall and stairs with beautiful marble and incredible sculptures everywhere – what a place! The butlers were all dressed in beautiful and colorful costumes and even the tables had been dressed up. I had never seen something like this in my whole career as a chef in Holland. This was real. This was a live record of a very old tradition.

Finally the queen, Gül and his wife arrived and we were allowed to sit down.

The food came and I wish you could have seen it. It really was something. Numerous butlers moved around all following the same rhythm.

It was as if I was watching a modern ballet in such a classical place like the Palace on the Dam Square. They arrived at the same time, they moved at the same time and then they were gone again, waiting at the side of the big dining hall.

 Gül, his wife and Queen Beatrix are seated at the head of the salon. As a guest you have to show your special entry card. After a quick check-in a butler shows you where to sit.

It looks so nice; all the people in their beautiful dresses and tailcoats, mingling in such an exquisite setting.It had been a beautiful and unforgettable evening.

Gül gives peace message

AMSTERDAM - Anatolia News Agency

Turkish President Abdullah Gül called on countries where Islamophobia is developing to be careful about it, during a joint press conference with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte yesterday.

“If anti-Islam policies are misused for political purposes, they can become dangerous,” Gül said.
Gül said he would be proud if all Turkish citizens used their democratic rights, and noted that Turkey was correcting its mistakes and shortcomings with regard to democratic rights.

Gül also said that neither Turkey nor Holland should allow for extreme thoughts or speeches that may hurt the special relationship existing between the two countries, during Queen Beatrix of Netherlands’ special dinner invitation on April 17 for the Turkish delegation.