King to Poland for first state visit
King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima are going to Poland today and tomorrow as their first state visit. Talks will revolve around trade, and history. Prime Minister Mark Rutte explained to De Volkskrant why Poland was chosen. "It underlines that Poland has become an important trade partner for The Netherlands." Trade between the two countries "increased tremendously" since Poland joined the EU in 2004, Rutte says. Around two percent of all Dutch exports go to Poland, putting Poland in the top ten of The Netherlands' most important trade destinations. In 2003, export to Poland amounted to €2.7 billion. Now, the amount is equal to quarterly export. In 2003, The Netherlands imported €1.7 billion worth of Polish goods, which include machines such as printers and computers. This year, that amount rises to €6 billion. Trade in the other direction is predominantly electric appliances and chemicals. The visit is an important step towards the reconciliation of trust between the two nations. Polish ambassador to The Netherlands, Jan Borkowski, says "it is a message to Poland that the Dutch government has a different conception of Poland than some politicians in The Hague." The ambassador is pointing to the incident in 2012 when PVV-leader Geert Wilders soured Polish-Dutch relations by setting up a Pole Hotline, basically a hotline where people could complain about Polish people being a nuisance or taking their jobs. Rutte, at the time, did not openly take distance from this incident. Wilders is also working with anti-EU parties in the European Parliament. History will also play an important role in the state visit. In Dutch history, it was Polish soldiers who helped to free The Netherlands 70 years ago. The royal couple will meet with veterans today at the monument of General Stanislaw Maczek, who liberated Breda in 1944.
There is also the initiative from Poland, Israel, The Netherlands and Slovakia to create a memorial for the concentration camp Sobibor. In the Second World War, more than 34 thousand Dutch Jews lost their lives at this camp.