Dutch PM says Turkish sanctions against Netherlands ‘not too bad’ but ‘bizarre’

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said that sanctions imposed on the Netherlands by Turkey following a diplomatic crisis with the country were “not too bad,” but they were inappropriate as his country had more reason to be angry about.

The Turkish government on Monday announced a series of political sanctions against the Netherlands over its refusal to allow two Turkish ministers to campaign there, including halting high-level political discussions between the two countries and closing Turkish air space to Dutch diplomats. Other sanctions bar the Dutch ambassador entry back into Turkey and advise parliament to withdraw from a Dutch-Turkish friendship group.

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş, briefing journalists after the weekly Cabinet meeting, said the sanctions would apply until the Netherlands takes steps “to redress” the actions that Ankara sees as a grave insult. “There is a crisis and a very deep one. We didn’t create this crisis or bring it to this stage,” Kurtulmuş said. “Those who did have to take steps to redress the situation.”

“I continue to find it bizarre that in Turkey they’re talking about sanctions when you see that we have reasons to be very angry about what happened this weekend,” Rutte has said.


Meanwhile, Turkey’s foreign ministry on Tuesday said the European Union (EU) was exercising democratic values selectively and that it should not be standing by the Netherlands, which it accused of violating human rights and European values.

In a joint statement on Monday, EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn called on Turkey to refrain from ‘excessive statements’ to avoid further escalating the dispute.

“EU counterparts are exercising democratic values and basic rights and freedoms selectively,” the foreign ministry said in a statement. “It is very grave for the EU to hide behind member country solidarity and stand by the Netherlands, which has clearly violated human rights and European values,” it said.

Mogherini and Hahn’s statement included “inaccurate assessments”, the foreign ministry said.

“It should be understood that the EU’s statement… actually helps the cause of extremes such as xenophobia and anti-Turkish sentiment,” it said.


Also, Belgium has joined European countries banning the activities of Turkish political parties as two Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) events have been cancelled by authorities in Anvers. After discussions with security personnel, Anvers Mayor Bart de Wever cancelled an activity planned by the MHP in the Berchem neighborhood on Friday.

The reason given was the risk of posing a threat to public order. De Wever also stated that another MHP program planned in Linkeroever had also been cancelled for the same reason. Earlier, the Belgian far-right party Vlams Belang announced a counter activity if the MHP program was allowed to move forward in Berchem.

Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands have all recently cancelled some Turkish programs.


Independent member of the Beşiktaş City Council, Hüseyin Avni Sipahi said he would butcher a cow that came from the Netherlands as reactions to The Hague mount over the expulsion of Turkish Minister of Family and Social Policy Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya and the use of police force against Turks demonstrating in Rotterdam.

At a meeting of the city council during which members condemned the Dutch government, Sipahi said: “I cannot accept the expulsion of our ministers despite the fact that they didn’t pose any threat. I have a farm in Emirli and a cow that came from Holland. She used to give a good amount of milk. But from now on she can give the milk to whoever she wants.”

Ahmet Selamet, head of the City Council, interrupted Sipahi and said: “Butcher the cow and invite us to dinner, then. Yes, friends, Mr. Hüseyin will kill the cow and we will eat it.”

“Yes, I will butcher the cow and invite you over,” confirmed Sipahi.

“I would send the cow back to the Netherland if the cost were not so high,” Sipahi told reporters after the council meeting.

Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) members of the council also condemned the Dutch during their speeches at the meeting.

Tensions between the two countries, a dramatic escalation of Turkey’s row with EU states, broke out on Saturday when the Netherlands blocked two Turkish ministers from speaking at political rallies and the Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan twice referred to the Dutch government as “Nazis.”

Turkey’s relations with Germany, Austria and the Netherlands have been strained over these countries’ refusal to allow Turkish government officials to hold rallies there ahead of the public referendum in Turkey in April.

Turkey will hold a referendum on April 16 on a constitutional reform package that will introduce an executive presidency in the country if approved.

Germany, Austria and the Netherlands have canceled scheduled events to be participated in by Turkish ministers, usually out of security concerns.

A large number of Turkish citizens or people of Turkish origin live in these countries, and Turkish citizens living abroad have the right to vote in elections and referenda.

Turkey is a candidate to join the EU, although the membership negotiations have made little progress over the past decade. The country has become a vital partner in a deal with the EU to curb the passage of migrants and refugees from Turkey into Europe. (SCF with turkishminute.com) March 14, 2017


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