MOSCOW, November 8 (Itar-Tass) - Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet the new King of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander here on Friday for the first time. The Dutch monarch together with Queen Maxima has arrived in Moscow to attend the the ceremony marking the conclusion of the reciprocal Years of Russia in the Netherlands and of the Netherlands in Russia.
The reciprocal Years were ceremonially ushered in by the Heads of State in April during Putin's visit to Amsterdam. Over the months that have passed since, the two countries have held more than 200 cultural and educational events and several tens of business forums. There was also a change-over of monarchs in the Netherlands: Queen Beatrix passed the throne to her elder son Willem-Alexander who is now paying the first visit to Russia as Head of State. Incidentally, Putin and Willem-Alexander are already familiar with each other: they met at official Russo-Dutch functions.
According to Dutch customs and Protocol, the King does not hold discussions on political themes with his official interlocutors. While being formally the Head of State he delegates power prerogatives to Prime Minister and the Cabinet of Ministers.
Putin repeatedly pointed out earlier that "The observance of reciprocal Years furnishes a good background for a further deepening of the political dialogue between the two countries". The Netherlands is among Russia's three main trading and investment partners while the history of cooperation spans several centuries: it was precisely Dutchmen who trained Peter the Great in nautical business. The present King of the Netherlands is from the Orange-Nassau dynasty is a maternal descendant of Russian Emperor Paul I. The latter's daughter married the future King of the Netherlands Willem II and became Queen of the Netherlands.
Itar-Tass correspondent Maria Fydorova in the Hague reported, referring to the Government Information Service of the Netherlands, that on Saturday the King and Queen would attend a concert of the Royal Orchestra of the Amsterdam Philharmonic Society "Concertgebouw" under the baton of its chief conduction Mariss Jansons. A series of concerts of the renowned Dutch orchestra in Russia wil lbe a final touch for the reciprocal Year. The programme for the soirees provides for the playing of Ludwig van Beethoven's Third Concerto for piano with orchestra and Richard Strauss's symphonic poem "A Hero's Life".
The reciprocal Year is timed to coincide with the qudricentenary of the establishment of the first official contacts between the two countries. The contacts date back to the year 1613 when Tsar MiIkhail Fedorovich sent two envoys to the Netherlands. In 1678, the first permanent Dutch resident in Moscow was appointed, and Russia's first permanent diplomatic mission opened in the Hague in 1699. Peter the Great first visited the Netherlands in 1697.
A session of the Russia-Netherlands joint intergovernmental commission (IGC) on economic cooperation will be also held in Moscow Friday against the background of the Royal couple's visit here. Government officials and businessmen will take part in the IGC's work in five working groups for energy, agriculture, transport, health care, and innovations.
On the whole, the reciprocal Year has had a plentiful and diverse programme of events in the economic, political and cultural spheres. Emphasis has been laid on economic contacts, since the Netherlands is one of Russia's key trading and investment partners. The programme for the Year is so ample that it does not end with its official conclusion. Part of activities will be continued even after the Year is over.