Dutch stand out in European Union by attending Olympics opening
The Dutch will be one of the few European countries sending top representatives to the opening of the Olympic Games on August 8 in Beijing, the dpa reported.
Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen sent a letter to the Dutch parliament on Wednesday listing which European and Dutch politicians and heads of state would attend the festive opening ceremony.
The Dutch are due to send Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende. Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and his wife Maxima will be present too.
Formally, the crown prince is said to be present only in his capacity as member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Other European princes who will be present are Belgian Prince Filip, Danish Crown Prince Frederik and Spanish Crown Prince Felipe.
Most other European countries are represented by ministers or lower diplomatic representatives.
Of all 26 European Union member states, only Finland, Latvia and Rumania will send their presidents and prime ministers.
Dutch legislator Joel Voordewind (Christian Union) said Dutch Prime Minister Balkenende, "being the prime minister of one of the EU's bigger countries, will stand out in Beijing with his attendance."
Voordewind repeated his call upon Balkenende to send a lower political representative to China.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has not yet decided about his presence but the German government will not attend the opening ceremony at all, nor will the Italian president.