ANKARA – Dutch politician René van der Linden received a high Turkish honour from the Turkish President Abdullah Gül on Thursday. The ChristianDemocrat is now a member of the Order of the Republic, the highest honour for non heads of state.
Van der Linden (69) received the honour for his years of efforts to improve relations between the Netherlands (and Europe) and Turkey. As President of the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe and also inside his own party the CDA he always pleaded the case of Turkey’s EU membership.
He also played an important role in the celebrations of 400 years of diplomatic relations between the Netherlands and Turkey, in 2012. During many visits to Turkey, Van der Linden built up a personal friendship with President Gül.
During the presentation in the presidential palace in the Turkish capital of Ankara President Gül praised Van der Linden’s efforts for democracy: ‘He opposed any artificial divisions over such criteria as religion, language, race and culture.’ Several Turkish ministers attended the ceremony.
Van der Linden is the third person to receive the Order of the Republic. Van der Linden said at the reception following the ceremony: ‘If you want to contribute to building relations with a country, personal connections are very important. Then you can also give criticism without it being perceived as criticism. Receiving this honour is very emotional for me. Turkey is part of my life.’