Saturday 29 April 2017

Turkish vote row with Netherlands heats up

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photo: AP
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photo: AP

Ralph Boulton

The dispute between the NATO allies Turkey and the Netherlands sharply escalated yesterday as the Dutch blocked campaign visits by two Turkish ministers - prompting the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to label the Dutch as fascists and "Nazi remnants".

From keeping Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from landing in the Netherlands in the morning to Turkish officials closing off the Dutch Embassy in the evening and saying the Dutch ambassador was no longer welcome, relations between the two sank ever deeper in the diplomatic standoff over the right of Turkish government officials to speak about their political plans at rallies in Europe.

The Dutch first withdrew the landing rights of the foreign minister because of objections to his intention to rally in Rotterdam for a Turkish referendum on constitutional reforms to expand presidential powers, which the Dutch see as a step backward from democracy.

And later, Turkey's Minister of Family and Social Policies was kept out of the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam after traveling from Germany, insisting that the "Netherlands is violating all international laws, conventions and human rights by not letting me enter."

Erdogan told a rally in Istanbul that the Dutch "do not know politics or international diplomacy." He compared them to "Nazi remnants, they are fascists."

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte called it "a crazy remark, of course. But I understand they are angry but this is of course way out of line."

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