The Netherlands barred Turkey’s Foreign Minister from flying to Rotterdam Saturday and President Tayyip Erdogan responded by calling his NATO partner a “Nazi remnant” as a row over Ankara campaigning among emigre Turkish voters intensified.
Rotterdam had banned Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from attending a Turkish rally in support of Erdogan’s drive for sweeping new powers, to be put to a referendum next month.
But Cavusoglu said yesterday morning he would fly to the city anyway and accused the Dutch of treating Turkish citizens in the country like “hostages”.
“I sent them so they could contribute to your economy ... They’re not your captives,” he told CNN Turk television.
“If my going will increase tensions, let it be. What damage will my going have on them? I am a foreign minister and I can go wherever I want,” he said before the Dutch barred his flight.
Cavusoglu had threatened harsh economic and political sanctions if the Dutch refused him entry, a threat that proved decisive for the Netherlands government.
It cited public order and security concerns in withdrawing landing rights for Cavusoglu’s flight. But it said the sanctions threat made the search for a reasonable solution impossible.
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte said that while the Netherlands and Turkey could search for “an acceptable solution”, Turkey was not respecting the rules relating to public gatherings.
“Many Dutch people with a Turkish background are authorised to vote in the referendum over the Turkish constitution. The Dutch government does not have any protest against gatherings in our country to inform them about it,” he said on Facebook.
“But these gatherings may not contribute to tensions in our society and everyone who wants to hold a gathering is obliged to follow instructions of those in authority so that public order and safety can be guaranteed,” Rutte added.
Four planned Turkish rallies in Austria and one in Switzerland have also been cancelled in the dispute.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country Erdogan compared last week with Nazi Germany, has said she will do everything possible to prevent any spillover of Turkish political tensions onto German soil.