King and Queen to pay state visit to Greece – programme

His Majesty King Willem-Alexander and Her Majesty Queen Máxima will be paying a state visit to Greece, at the invitation of President Katerina Sakellaropoulou. The visit will take place from Monday 31 October to Wednesday 2 November in Athens and Thessaloniki.

The King and Queen will be accompanied by Dutch foreign minister Wopke Hoekstra. Minister for Migration Eric van der Burg and State Secretary for Health, Welfare and Sport Maarten van Ooijen will attend selected parts of the programme. The state visit could not go ahead as planned in 2021 nor in March this year. Both times the visit was postponed after close consultation between King Willem-Alexander and President Sakellaropoulou.

The state visit reaffirms the good bilateral relations between Greece and the Netherlands. The two countries have been closely connected for over 40 years within the EU, and for 70 years within NATO. The Netherlands and Greece work together to ensure Europe remains open, innovative, safe and stable. The state visit will focus on issues including cooperation on innovation, sustainability, migration and human rights, and the countries’ partnership within the European Union. 

Monday 31 October and Tuesday 1 November: Athens

To mark the start of the state visit on Monday morning, the King and Queen will lay a wreath at the Monument of the Unknown Soldier in Syntagma Square in Athens. They will then be welcomed by President Sakellaropoulou at the Presidential Palace. 

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima will then meet with representatives of the Greek Ombudsman and the Dutch Ombudsman at the Netherlands Institute in Athens. Since its inception, the Greek Ombudsman organisation has worked closely with its Dutch counterpart to protect the fundamental rights of citizens and migrants. In the afternoon the King and Queen will visit the Acropolis, where they will take a walking tour of the Erechtheion and the Parthenon. 

Later in the afternoon the King and Queen will meet the mayor of Athens, Kostas Bakoyannis, and attend a reception for the Dutch community. On Monday evening, President Sakellaropoulou will host a state banquet at the Presidential Palace, at which both heads of state will give a speech.

On Tuesday morning the King and Queen will visit the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center to see the World Press Photo exhibition on women’s rights, titled ‘Resilience – stories of women inspiring change’. This will be followed by a roundtable discussion on combating violence against women. The Greek president will participate in this discussion, as will Greek and Dutch policymakers and representatives of human rights organisations and implementing agencies. King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima will then attend a pitch competition for startups, organised by Orange Grove, the Dutch embassy’s platform offering support to young Greek entrepreneurs and startups.

The royal couple will then visit the Elpida oncology clinic at Paidon children’s hospital, which has a partnership with the Princess Máxima Centre for Pediatric Oncology. After a tour that includes the clinic’s stem cell laboratory, they will speak with former patients about their experiences. 

In the afternoon, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima will attend a concert by refugee children from a number of Greek reception camps, organised by the Greek-Dutch NGO Connect by Music. The concert will be held at a school in Athens which participates in the ‘Schools for All’ programme. This programme promotes the integration and acceptance in Greek schools of children from refugee backgrounds. After the concert, King Willem-Alexander will visit a home for Ukrainian children who came to Greece after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Queen Máxima will visit a home for girls who arrived in Greece as unaccompanied minor refugees. The home was opened in 2020 with the Netherlands’ support.

The second day of the state visit will conclude with a performance by the Nederlands Danstheater in the Megaron Mousikis, hosted by King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima.

Wednesday 2 November: Thessaloniki

The last day of the visit will take place in Greece’s second largest city Thessaloniki. On Wednesday morning the King and Queen will attend an economic session on sustainability and agriculture at LABattoir, at which the King will give a speech. This will be followed by a presentation on the rich history of the city, which has been at the crossroads of cultures for centuries. The city’s mayor, Konstantinos Zervas, will meet the King and Queen in Aristotelous Square and tell them more about Thessaloniki’s ongoing transforming into a sustainable and liveable city. The party will cycle to the historical White Tower, where the mayor will take their leave of the royal couple.

The final programme element will be a visit to the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, during which the Dutch embassy’s ‘Entrepreneurial University’ programme will be discussed. This initiative promotes the sharing of knowledge and experience on entrepreneurship education and innovation by Dutch and Greek universities. The King and Queen will meet with deputy education minister Angelos Syrigos and the rectors of Thessaloniki’s two largest universities – the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the University of Macedonia – which are involved in the programme.

During the state visit all COVID-19-related measures currently in place in Greece will be observed. The programme is subject to change and may at any point be amended to reflect changes to the situation.

Government Information Service, no. 267