The Netherlands disallows visit of Turkish mayor Fatma Şahin

On the first anniversary of a diplomatic crisis between Turkey and the Netherlands, The Hague has disallowed the planned visit of a ruling party mayor, BBC reported on Friday.

BBC said a visit to the city of Deventer on March 11 by Fatma Şahin, the mayor of Gaziantep, was cancelled by the Turkish side over a warning from Dutch authorities.

According to a report by nltimes.nl, Şahin, who is also a former minister, canceled the planned visit to Deventer after consultation with Dutch diplomats. After a diplomatic row sparked by another Turkish minister’s visit to Rotterdam last year, it was decided that this visit “would not be appropriate at this moment,” a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Dutch news outlet AD.

Şahin, a prominent member of autocratic Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), was scheduled to speak to a women-only gathering at the Centrum Mosque in Deventer on Saturday.

The gathering comes at an unfortunate time, close to the municipal elections on March 21. Almost exactly a year ago, on the weekend before parliamentary elections, a visit by current Turkish Minister of Family Affairs Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya to Rotterdam sparked a diplomatic row that is still ongoing. The Dutch government expelled her from the country after she arrived to campaign for a referendum that gave Erdoğan more power.

Despite the ongoing tensions between Turkey and the Netherlands, Turkish authorities informed their Dutch counterparts about Şahin’s planned visit. The two countries then consulted on an official level, a spokesperson for Foreign Affairs told AD.

“Together we came to the conclusion that this planned visit would not be appropriate at the moment.” The spokesperson would not comment further and would not tell the newspaper whether the Netherlands had exerted pressure.

The ministry spokesperson did emphasize that the Netherlands and Turkey are still in contact, despite the diplomatic row. “The Netherlands continues to talk with Turkey about issues that concern both of us. This includes visits back and forth, but also issues such as safety and migration.”

The Dutch Foreign Ministry announced on Feb. 5 that it had formally withdrawn its ambassador to Turkey, who has been physically barred from re-entering the country for almost a year, over the dispute that began in March 2017.

The Netherlands will also not agree to the appointment of a new Turkish ambassador to the Netherlands. In a statement the ministry said it had “paused” talks with Turkey on resolving the matter.

The crisis erupted between Ankara and The Hague last March when the latter cancelled the flight clearance for Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu’s airplane shortly after he warned that Turkey would impose “harsh sanctions” on the Netherlands if it were to take such a step. Çavuşoğlu was scheduled to fly to Rotterdam for a campaign rally for a public referendum last April.

The crisis escalated when Turkish Minister of Family and Social Policy Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya was expelled from the Netherlands after she insisted on going to the residence of the Turkish consul general in Rotterdam. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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