Turkey Slams Dutch “Fascism”

Protesters clashed with the police in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, on Feb. 11.Protesters clashed with the police in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, on Feb. 11.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the Netherlands is acting like a “banana republic” and should face sanctions for barring Turkish ministers from speaking in Rotterdam, fuelling a row over Ankara’s political campaigning abroad.

Erdogan is looking to the large number of Turks living in Europe, especially in Germany and the Netherlands, to help secure victory next month in a referendum that would give the presidency sweeping new powers, ABC News reported.

In a speech in France, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu described the Netherlands as the “capital of fascism” after it joined other European countries in stopping Turkish politicians from holding rallies, due to fears that tensions in Turkey might spill over into their expatriate communities.

The Dutch government barred Cavusoglu from flying to Rotterdam on Saturday and later stopped Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya from entering the Turkish consulate there, before escorting her out of the country to Germany.

Set to lose about half its seats in elections this week, according to polls, as the anti-Islam party of Geert Wilders makes strong gains, the Dutch government said the visits were undesirable and it would not cooperate in their campaigning.

“I call on all international organizations in Europe and elsewhere to impose sanctions on the Netherlands,” Erdogan said, after his prime minister earlier said Turkey would retaliate in the “harshest ways”, without specifying how.

“Has Europe said anything? No. Why? Because they don’t bite each other. The Netherlands are acting like a banana republic,” Erdogan said in a speech in Kocaeli Province, near Istanbul.

  “Nazism Widespread in the West”

A day earlier, Erdogan described the Netherlands as “Nazi remnants” and returned to the theme on Sunday by saying, “Nazism is still widespread in the West”, in what Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said were inflammatory remarks.

“We ended up in a totally unprecedented situation in which a NATO ally ... with whom we have historic ties, strong trade relations, is acting in a totally unacceptable, irresponsible manner,” Rutte said.

“Rather than the Netherlands apologizing for refusing the Turkish ministers entry, Turkey’s president should apologize for comparing the Netherlands to fascists and Nazis.”

The row risked spreading on Sunday as Denmark’s Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen proposed postponing a planned visit by Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim this month due to the dispute.

The French Foreign Ministry urged calm and said there had been no reason to prohibit a meeting in France between Cavusoglu and a local Turkish association.

Supporting Rutte’s decision to ban the visits, the Dutch government said there was a risk of Turkish political divisions flowing over into its own Turkish minority, which has both pro- and anti-Erdogan camps.

The Netherlands on Monday issued a new travel warning to Dutch citizens in Turkey, urging them to take care amid the bitter row between the two countries.

“Since March 11, 2017, there have been diplomatic tensions between Turkey and the Netherlands. Stay alert across the whole of Turkey and avoid gatherings and crowded places,” the foreign ministry said in its warning.

  Diplomatic Notes

Ankara sent two diplomatic notes to Amsterdam after falling out over a ban on Turkish ministers holding meetings with the country’s expats in the Netherlands, Turkish media reported on Monday.

According to the Hurriyet Daily News, the first note criticized the treatment of Turkish family minister and the second note reportedly expressed concern over what it called “disproportionate” response of the Dutch police to the peaceful gathering of protesters in front of the Rotterdam Consulate.

The note added that Ankara was expecting an official apology from Amsterdam for actions that it deemed incompatible with diplomatic protocols and international law, the newspaper reported.

The Dutch authorities declared Kaya “an undesirable alien” after calling off her campaign meetings and had the police escort her to Germany.

According to media reports, the Dutch police used force, including mounted police units, on Sunday to disperse the protesters in Rotterdam.


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