Turkish-Dutch tensions heat up after minister escorted from Holland

Published March 12th, 2017 - 10:00 GMT
People gesture and wave flags as Turkish residents of the Netherlands gather for a protest outside Turkey's consulate in Rotterdam on March 11, 2017. (AFP/File)
People gesture and wave flags as Turkish residents of the Netherlands gather for a protest outside Turkey's consulate in Rotterdam on March 11, 2017. (AFP/File)

Diplomatic tensions between Turkey and the Netherlands took a dramatic turn for the worse on Sunday after Dutch authorities denied the Turkish family minister entry into Ankara’s consulate in Rotterdam.

Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya had travelled overland from Germany to rally support among Turkish expats for an upcoming referendum to expand President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s powers.

However the minister was stopped for several hours by Dutch police some 30 metres short of her country’s consulate.

Dutch police then escorted the minister to the German border according to the mayor of Rotterdam and the Turkish minister.

Kaya condemned Dutch authorities on Twitter saying, "The whole world should take a stance against such a fascist implementation in the name of democracy."

"This treatment against a woman minister can never be accepted," she wrote.

Earlier, the minister was declared 'persona non grata' and would be deported early Sunday, according to Dutch RTL television.

The minister’s arrival in Rotterdam coincided with a large protest by Turks angry at the treatment of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who was denied permission by the Dutch government to land in the city for a pro-Erdogan rally. 

The Dutch decision to ban Cavusoglu from visiting and holding a rally in the port city of Rotterdam came after Germany also blocked similar campaign events.

Unlike in Germany, where a string of planned rallies were barred by local authorities, in the Netherlands it was the government that stepped in to block Cavusoglu's visit.

The Turkish President on Saturday lashed out at Dutch authorities after his foreign minister was denied entry, likening The Hague’s actions to Nazism.

"They are the vestiges of the Nazis, they are fascists," Erdogan told an Istanbul rally Saturday, days after he angrily compared moves to block rallies in Germany to "Nazi practices".

"Ban our foreign minister from flying however much you like, but from now on let's see how your flights will land in Turkey," Erdogan said.

As the row raged, Turkish foreign ministry sources said the Dutch embassy in Ankara and consulate in Istanbul had both been sealed off for "security reasons".

The Turkish foreign ministry said the Dutch charge d'affaires in Ankara was summoned and told that Turkey did not want the Dutch ambassador - currently on holiday - to return "for a while".

The Netherlands is home to some 400,000 people of Turkish origin, and Ankara is keen to harness votes of the diaspora in Europe ahead of the April 16 referendum on creating an executive presidency.

The Turkish government argues the changes would ensure stability and create more efficient governance but opponents say it would lead to one-man rule and further inflame tensions in its diverse society.


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