Rutte’s spokesperson refutes PM Yıldırım, says ‘no apologies were made’

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

A spokesperson for the Netherlands’ Prime Minister Mark Rutte has refuted the Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım who said in a live TV interview on Tuesday night that his Dutch counterpart, Rutte, had apologized for the detention of the Turkish consul general in Rotterdam and the chargé d’affaires from the embassy in The Hague.

According to a report in nltimes.nl, the Netherlands will not apologize to Turkey for the actions taken in Rotterdam on Saturday around the arrival of Turkish Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Mark Rutte said to Het Parool on Wednesday. “The actions taken on Saturday were firm and respectful.”

Ruttte’s spokesperson responded to reports in Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah, in which Turkish prime minister Binali Yıldırım said that Rutte offered verbal apologies for taking Turkish diplomats into custody at the Turkish consulate on Saturday night. Yıldırım claims that Rutte said that taking the diplomats into custody was a mistake. He added that Rutte offered to go out to dinner together and does not want tensions to increase.

According to Rutte’s spokesperson, no apologies were made. In the chaos of protests at the consulate, two Turkish diplomats were briefly detained. “This happened because the police were not clear on who they were. When it turned out that they were diplomats, they were immediately released. In his contacts on Saturday night, Prime Minister Rutte told PM Yıldırım that the matter is under investigation. If it turns out that the Netherlands acted contrary to the Vienna Convention in this matter, we regret it”, the spokesperson said to Het Parool.

Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has continued on Wednesday to criticize Dutch PM Rutte, saying he was not honest and not a real man, the t24 news website reported. “Dutch Prime Minister [Mark Rutte] lies. He is not an honest man. I thought he was a real man. We sat with him and negotiated the refugee agreement. I thought he was a real man, but he is not. He is not honest,” said Çavuşoğlu on 24 TV while evaluating the crisis between Ankara and The Hague.

“If we preferred lawlessness or reciprocity, we would take the [Dutch] chargé d’affaires by the ear and put him a cell,” said Çavuşoğlu in reaction to the detention of the Turkish diplomats.

Also on Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek said that Turkey has no problem with Dutch businesses or the Dutch people, in response to a question about possible sanctions to be imposed on the Netherlands amid a crisis between the two countries. “We do not have any problems with either the Dutch people or the Dutch business world,” Şimşek said.

Şimşek’s remarks were at odds with earlier statements by the government that economic sanctions could be considered.

On the other hand, the US has called on Turkey and the Netherlands to resolve their ongoing diplomatic dispute, urging the “strong allies” to mend relations. “Both countries are NATO allies, and we would call on them to avoid escalatory rhetoric and engage one another with mutual respect and try to resolve the differences in this matter,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters.

At the State Department, Toner added that Washington works closely with both countries and wants to see them cooperate. “These are two strong allies, two strong partners within NATO,” he said.

Turkish Family Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya told a UN session on Wednesday that she recently endured “inhumane treatment” from the Netherlands government, in contravention of diplomatic protocols.

“The Netherlands violated several European and UN conventions by restricting the freedom of speech and movement of a woman minister who has diplomatic immunity,” Kaya told the session on the status of women.

She said special operations officers who surrounded her vehicle were authorized to use deadly force and Turkish citizens waiting to welcome her were attacked by police dogs and horses.

“On behalf of my country and all women, I strongly condemn this biased, racist and xenophobic treatment,” she said, adding that the world should not “remain silent” to the Dutch government’s actions.

Another reaction has come from the city council of the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality as it has terminated a twin city protocol with the Dutch city of Rotterdam following a call from Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The move came soon after President Erdoğan said in a televised address on Wednesday that he had given instructions for the twinning agreement to be scrapped, saying it was impossible for the two cities to be “twins” following the eruption of a diplomatic crisis between Turkey and the Netherlands. The city council voted unanimously to end the twinning protocol that was signed in 2005.

The Netherlands and Turkey are in the midst of a political row. The Netherlands banned two Turkish Ministers, including Kaya, from campaigning in Rotterdam for a Turkish referendum that will, among other things, give Erdoğan more power. Erdoğan responded by accusing the Netherlands of Nazism and fascism, imposing a number of sanctions and later accusing the Netherlands of mass murder in Srebrenica in 1995.

Germany and France both expressed their support for the Netherlands in this matter. The presidents of the European Union and European Commission now also spoke out against Turkey.

Tensions between the Netherlands and Turkey broke out on Saturday when the former blocked two Turkish ministers from speaking at political rallies and President 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.

March 15, 2017

 

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