President Macron visiting the Netherlands; First French State visit in 23 years

President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Birgitte are visiting Amsterdam and The Hague today and tomorrow. It is a French leader’s first official state visit to the Netherlands in 23 years. The Macrons are here at the invitation of King Willem-Alexander.

The King and Queen Maxima will welcome the French president and his wife to Dam Square on Tuesday morning. In the afternoon, they’ll have a private lunch together.

As part of the welcome ceremony on the Amsterdam IJ, a French warship will fire 42 shots – the first 21 while sailing, the other 21 at the Marineterrein. The municipality warned that the shots would be noticeable in a large part of the city. It expects many people will report it to the police.

“Especially now that many people are concerned about the war in Ukraine or have experienced a war situation themselves. Several refugees from the war zones live near the IJ and Marineterrein at the head of Java Island. The district, the municipal shelter for refugees, and the COA will try to inform them in advance,” the municipality of Amsterdam said.

This morning on Dam Square in Amsterdam, the Marinierskapel will play the national anthems, the visitors will inspect the guard of honor, and a wreath will be laid. Macron will then go to The Hague to meet with the presidents of the Senate and lower house of parliament. In the evening, there will be a state banquet in the Palace on Dam Square, with speeches by Willem-Alexander and Macron.

On Wednesday, Macron and his wife will visit the Vermeer exhibit in the Rijksmuseum with Prime Minister Mark Rutte. They will also visit the University of Amsterdam, and there will be talks between the Dutch and French governments. The agenda for the state visit includes various discussions on sustainability and an independent Europe.

The last time a French president paid a state visit to the Netherlands was when Jacque Chirac and his wife Bernadette visited in 2000, NOS reports. King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima paid a state visit to France in 2016, visiting then-president Francois Hollande.

The long time between state visits is not due to conflict between the two countries. The relationship between France and the Netherlands is currently very good. According to the government information service, Rijksvoorlichtingsdienst, the visit reconfirms “the excellent relations between France and the Netherlands.”

Macron visited the Netherlands in January, but not for an official state visit. Macron and Rutte met at the Binnehof and afterward stressed the good relationship between the two countries. “That bond is extra important, I may say indispensable, because of the war in Ukraine,” Rutte said.

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