Netherlands bars Turkish minister from landing in Rotterdam

Netherlands bars Turkish minister from landing in Rotterdam
Published: 12 March 2017 - 6:40 a.m.
By: Reuters

The Netherlands barred Turkey's foreign minister from landing in Rotterdam on Saturday in a row over Ankara's political campaigning among Turkish emigres, leading President Tayyip Erdogan to brand its fellow NATO member a "Nazi remnant".

The dispute escalated in the evening as Turkey's family minister was prevented by police from entering the Turkish consulate in the Rotterdam while hundreds of protesters waving Turkish flags gathered outside demanding to see the minister.

Turkey's foreign ministry said it did not want the Dutch ambassador to Ankara to return from leave "for some time". Turkish authorities sealed off the Dutch embassy in Ankara and consulate in Istanbul in apparent retaliation and hundreds gathered there for protests at the Dutch action.

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

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she will do everything possible to prevent Turkish political tensions spilling onto German soil and four rallies in Austria and one in Switzerland have been cancelled due to the growing dispute.

Erdogan has cited domestic threats from Kurdish and Islamist militants and a July coup bid as cause to vote "yes" to his new powers. But he has also drawn on the emotionally charged row with Europe to portray Turkey as betrayed by allies while facing wars on its southern borders.

The Dutch government had banned Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from attending a rally on Saturday in Rotterdam but he said he would fly there anyway, saying Europe must be rid of its "boss-like attitude".

Cavusoglu, who was barred from a similar meeting in Hamburg last week but spoke instead from the Turkish consulate, accused the Dutch of treating the many Turkish citizens in the country like hostages, cutting them off from Ankara.

"If my going will increase tensions, let it be ... I am a foreign minister and I can go wherever I want," he added hours before his planned flight to Rotterdam was banned.

 

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