Tension rises between Turkey and the Netherlands with tit-for-tat steps

Dutch police has detained Turkish Minister of Family and Social Policy Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya to deport her to Germany after declaring her “undesirable alien.” Minister Kaya decided to go to Rotterdam by car despite the fact that the Netherlands on Saturday canceled the flight clearance for Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu’s aircraft to land in Holland.

Earlier on Saturday, a car carrying Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya was stopped by Dutch police on Saturday. Sadin Ayyıldız, the Turkish consul general in Rotterdam, said Minister Kaya’s car was stopped at some place unknown to him. “I do not exactly know where the car was stopped. As you can see, I am not allowed to go to the place where the minister was stopped,” he said.

Dutch public NOS TV reported that the minister’s car was stopped close to the Turkish Consulate.

In reaction to the Dutch decision not to allow her to enter the Turkish Consulate in Rotterdam, Minister Kaya said: “We want European countries, especially the Netherlands, to quickly return to the democratic values which they say they are for.”

Turkish state media teams and others in the minister’s convoy were not allowed entry to the Netherlands and were asked to return to Germany.

Programs in which Kaya had planned to participate were previously cancelled. Minister Kaya decided to go to Rotterdam by car despite the fact that the Netherlands on Saturday canceled the flight clearance for FM Çavuşoğlu’s aircraft to land in Holland.

Dutch police have also closed off the road in front of the Turkish consulate residence in Rotterdam after Minister Kaya announced she would travel to the city by car. Dutch police dispersed Turks who had gathered in the location where the minister’s car was stopped.

As a kind of retaliation Turkish police has also blocked Dutch missions in Turkey citing security reasons. Turkish police closed the gates of the Dutch Consulate General in İstanbul and the embassy in Ankara, not allowing anyone to enter or exit the buildings. The move came after Dutch police blocked the street on which the Turkish Consulate in Rotterdam is situated and refused to allow Minister Kaya into the building.

After the Netherlands’s decision to cancel the flight clearance for Turkish FM Çavuşoğlu’s aircraft to land in Holland, Ankara asked that Dutch Ambassador Cornelis Van Rij not return to Turkey for a while, the state-run TRTHaber reported on Saturday. Earlier on Saturday, the Netherlands’ chargé d’affaires in Ankara was summoned to Turkish  Foreign Ministry.

“[In response to the Netherlands’ decision to prevent Turkish ministers from entering the country] we have informed them that we do not want to see the Dutch ambassador, who is still on vacation abroad, return to his job in Turkey for a while,” said a Turkish Foreign Ministry statement released on Saturday.

Earlier, FM Çavuşoğlu slammed Dutch authorities, saying tulips came to Holland from the Ottomans but failed to make them real men. “The decision taken by the Netherlands is a scandal in all aspects and is not acceptable,” said Çavuşoğlu at İstanbul Atatürk Airport on Saturday.

Recalling that he had campaigned before previous elections in Rotterdam, Çavuşoğlu said: “What has changed now that you won’t allow it? Why are you taking a side in this referendum? Why have the referendum and new system disturbed you so much that you are trying to prevent it?”

Likening the statements made by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to those made by Far-right Freedom Party head Geert Wilders, Çavuşoğlu said Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders rejected his proposal to hold campaign rallies after upcoming elections in the Netherlands.

Çavuşoğlu expressed uneasiness with the statement by Rutte: “He said, ‘We do not want to see the Turkish foreign minister here before or after the elections.’ Even more cheaply he said, ‘The Turkish foreign minister can come to see our museums and our tulips’.”

Calling Rutte’s statement shameful, Çavuşoğlu added: “Tulips were sent to Holland from Turkey during the time of the Ottomans. It seems that the tulips have not made the prime minister and racist politicians in the Netherland real men. If tulips would be useful, we can send them new ones so that they can be real men, a little.”

Underlining that the decision of the Dutch government made Wilders happy, the foreign minister continued: “OK, what is the difference between the prime minister who took this decision and Wilders? There is no difference. The same mentality, the same mindset, the same fascism.”

“We will give them the response they deserve,” added Çavuşoğlu.

Çavuşoğlu was scheduled to fly to Rotterdam on Saturday for a campaign rally, but the flight clearance for his airplane was canceled just hours before his flight. Çavuşoğlu said Saturday during a live interview with CNNTürk that Turkey would impose sanctions on the Netherlands if the country were to cancel clearance for his flight later in the day.

“Now there is the Netherlands. Dutch [nationalist politician Geert] Wilders acts like a Nazi. He threatens the foreign minister of the Turkish Republic with not letting the airplane take off. But I will go today,” said Çavuşoğlu.

Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has also threatened to refuse Dutch aircraft the right to land in Turkey. “Don’t allow our foreign minister’s plane to go there as much as you want — let’s see how your planes will come to Turkey from now on. I am talking about diplomacy here, I am not talking about citizens’ travel. That is another issue, and we will assess that later on,” Erdoğan said during a speech in İstanbul’s Bağcılar district.

On the other hand, Amnesty International fired the first shots at Turkish FM Çavuşoğlu on Friday after he announced that a visit to the Netherlands for a public rally to promote votes in favor of an April 16 referendum was still planned, even though Dutch authorities had announced that such rallies were “undesirable.”

“We just learned that you decided to come to the Netherlands. Would you care to bring along the 45,000+ signatures gathered to demand the release of jailed journalists? Or should we meet somewhere so we can give it to you. Regards. Amnesty International,” the organization said in a statement in Turkish. Amnesty is a London-based human rights organization.

Amnesty International has recently launched a campaign for urgent action against the Turkish government’s increasing control over media outlets and imprisonment of journalists and writers following a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15. As part of the campaign, the organization managed to collect 45,000 signatures calling for the release of the journalists. There are currently at least 152 journalists behind bars across Turkey. (SCF with turkishminute.com) March 11, 2017

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