Diplomatic quarrel between Turkey and Netherlands seems to grow after the Turkish president accusing the NATO ally of fascism, and declaring the Dutch would “pay the price” for harming relations.
The Danish Prime Minister also entered the fray, saying he couldn’t host a yet-to-be scheduled visit by his Turkish counterpart in light of “current rhetorical attacks” against the Dutch.
In Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has cracked down on opposition — particularly journalists, academics and the public service sector and in July after a coup attempt all are pushing an April referendum that would expand his powers.
In the Netherlands, this week’s general elections will pit a hardline anti-Islam candidate in a tight race against the incumbent prime minister.
President Erdogan is interested to rally the roughly 4.6 million expatriate Turks living in Western Europe, many of whom will be permitted to vote in the Turkish referendum.
On Saturday, following similar moves in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, Netherlands barred a plane carrying Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from entering the country, citing security concerns.
The Dutch also stopped Turkey’s family affairs minister from entering the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam.
Erdogan responded and said that Netherlands is “sacrificing Turkish-Dutch relations” and accused the country — which lost more than 200,000 of its citizens during Germany’s World War II occupation — of Nazism. Rotterdam, where Cavusoglu hoped to speak, was especially hard hit by the Nazis.
Next month referendum in Turkey would define their government structure. If passed, it would transform the country’s parliamentary system into a presidential one, effectively consolidating the power of three legislative bodies into one executive branch under Erdogan.
The Netherlands isn’t the first nation Erdogan has accused of Nazism. Germany, too, became a target of Erdogan’s Nazi comparisons after canceling Turkish rallies on its soil this month. Some 1.5 million Turkish nationals living in Germany are eligible to vote in the referendum, according to Anadolu.
Erdogan said at the International Goodness Awards in Istanbul on Sunday “I thought Nazism was over but I was wrong and What we saw in the last couple of days in Germany and Netherlands are the reflections of Islamophobia.”
Erdogan’s government jailed more journalists than any other country in 2016 and nearly 140 media outlets have been shuttered, more than 41,000 people have been arrested and about 100,000 workers have been dismissed from public service positions.
Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen stated The Danish government is observing developments in Turkey “with great concern as democratic principles are under considerable pressure.”
“A meeting right now would be interpreted as if Denmark is viewing developments in Turkey more mildly, which is not at all the case,” he added.