Dutch, Turks in Row After Ministers Barred from Campaigning

Relations between the NATO allies sink to a low after the Netherlands bars two Turkish ministers from campaigning.

Prime Ministers Mark Rutte of the Netherlands and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey address a press conference in Ankara, November 6, 2012
Prime Ministers Mark Rutte of the Netherlands and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey address a news conference in Ankara, November 6, 2012 (Rijksoverheid)

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has lashed out at his Dutch allies, calling them “Nazi remnants” and “fascists” after they refused to allow two of his ministers to campaign in the country on the North Sea.

Erdoğan earlier called the Germans “fascists” as well when they canceled a demonstration in support of his plans to expand the Turkish presidency.

Dutch officials had asked Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya, the Turkish ministers for foreign and family affairs, respectively, not to appear at a pro-Erdoğan rally in Rotterdam this weekend. (A city that was almost razed to the ground by the Nazis in 1940.)

When Çavuşoğlu threatened sanctions if the Dutch would not allow him to come, the government of Mark Rutte denied his plane landing rights.

Kaya then attempted to reach Rotterdam by car from Germany. She was declared a persona non grata and escorted out of the country.

Cross-party support

The diplomatic row comes just three days before parliamentary elections are due to be held in the Netherlands.

Far-right politician Geert Wilders seized on the incident to argue there was a “fifth column” in the Netherlands. He called on those with loyalties to other states to leave.

But there was cross-party support for Rutte’s actions. Other political leaders praised him for not giving in to Turkish threats.

On edge

Relations between Turkey and its NATO allies have been on edge. Erdoğan sees the West’s hand in a 2016 coup attempt against him. European countries and the United States worry that the post-coup crackdown and Erdoğan’s attempts to make the presidency more powerful are the first steps in establishing a dictatorship.

Erdoğan’s Islamist Justice and Development Party has been trumping up support for the constitutional changes in the Turkish diaspora. Up to half a million ethnic Turks reside in the Netherlands. Three million live in Germany, half of whom are dual citizens and eligible to vote in a referendum in April.

Dutch values

Relations between Turkey and the Netherlands have been particularly testy.

In 2014, Erdoğan’s Foreign Ministry accused the Dutch of “racist accusations toward Turks” after the Netherlands intensified monitoring of Turkish interest groups in the country.

Officials said such organizations — often funded by the Turkish government or the Justice and Development Party — did more to strengthen “Turkish-Islamic identity” than integrate ethnic Turks in Dutch society.

Polls have shown that Dutch citizens of Turkish descent are less likely to share the country’s liberal gender and sexual values than do the native Dutch.

Adoption

In 2013, Erdoğan personally criticized the adoption of a Turkish boy by a lesbian couple in the Netherlands.

Erdoğan argued that Turkish children should not be “assimilated” into Dutch society by being raised by Christian or gay parents but “returned” to the Turkish community.

Political parties in the Netherlands, including Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s liberals, argued at the time that such statements made clear Turkey wasn’t ready to join the European Union.

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Comments

  1. Why does Erdogan sent his Foreign Minister to deliver a speech in a state comprised of Nazi remnants?

    Erdogan played tough with Russia, too, in Syria, but now he licked Putin’s hand to lift the Russian sanctions that cost the Turkish economy $ billions!

    Oh, and he tried to overthrow Bashar Assad, but bowing to Putin means he would have to swallow his bravado on his Syrian civil war and kisss Assad’s hand!

    No wonder why the European Union has rejected Turkey’s bid for membership! Most European still see Turks as Mongols, their lineage, and half civilized.

    No wonder why Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish Imam living in the U.S. is more popular than Erdogan in Turkey. Erdogan has been demanding from the U.S. to extradite him for execution, but the U.S. refuses knowing the torture in Turkish prisons.

    It was revealed recently that Turkey paid Michael Flynn, Donald Trump’s resigned National Security Adviser, $530,000 to influence the Trump administration to extradite Gullen. Gullen is more popular in Turkey than Erdogan, and he can win the elections, but Erdogan has outlawed Gullen’s organization.

    The moral of the Erdogan’s wrath and name calling? He sees wrong everywhere, and he has been creating enemies everywhere, but he has earned them with his wildly howling and disrespecting persona. He needs some introspection, and the sooner-the-better!

    Nikos Retsos, retired professor, USA

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