The Netherlands bars Turkish FM from entry as tensions escalate
Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. (AFP/File)
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The Netherlands has canceled Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu's flight permit on grounds of "security" and "public safety", Dutch Foreign Ministry announced in a statement Saturday.
The announcement came just hours after Cavusoglu said Turkey would impose “severe sanctions” on the Netherlands if attempts were made to cancel his planned meeting in the European country.
In his first remarks since the Dutch announcement, the foreign minister vowed to retaliate against the Netherlands and said the move would see an appropriate Turkish response.
Cavusoglu told reporters in Istanbul the move was a "scandal from every angle and unacceptable".
He said the ban on him pleased far-right Dutch politicians such as Geert Wilders. "Because this is what Wilders wanted. If you had seen Wilder's posts on social media, he was very pleased.
"Well then, what is the difference between the current Dutch government and Wilders? There is no difference. It is the same mindset, same fascism," the Turkish minister said.
The foreign minister was scheduled to address the Turkish community in the Dutch city of Rotterdam later Saturday.
According to the Dutch statement, the decision came after Cavusoglu's "threat" to impose sanctions on the Netherlands.
In remarks made during a live television interview on CNN Turk earlier, Cavusoglu said: "If the Netherlands cancels my flight, we will impose severe sanctions on them that will affect it economically and politically."
In the interview, he also asked: "Where is the harm in my visiting the country?", adding he could travel anywhere as a foreign minister.
"If tension will increase [between the two countries] because of my visit, then let it increase," he said.
In its statement, the Dutch Foreign Ministry said the threat from Turkey about sanctions made it “impossible” to find a reasonable solution.
Referring to the upcoming referendum in Turkey on constitutional reforms, the statement said there were many Turkish-origin people in the Netherlands who would participate in the polls.
The Dutch government has no objection to such meetings in our country which would inform those people, the statement said. However, it claimed Turkish authorities did not want to respect rules for maintaining the order and safety of the community.
The Netherlands added it was determined to engage in dialogue with Turkey over the issue.
Additionally, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told reporters in Rotterdam "I understand that they are angry. But I believe we have taken a good decision."
Far-right Freedom Party head Geert Wilders claimed on his social media account the cancelation took place thanks to his party's intense pressure on the Dutch government.
"I say to the Turks who have same thoughts with Erdogan 'Go to Turkey and never come back," Wilders added.
The ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party's Rotterdam coordination center called on Turkish citizens to be even-tempered following the cancellation. "We believe that our honorable nation will give the best answer to this anti-democratic move which is against human rights and freedoms in the upcoming referendum," it said.