Protests broke out in Rotterdam after the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, reacted angrily to the Dutch government comparing them to Nazi’s saying,” “Nazism is still widespread in the West,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected the comments as they were unacceptable and offered the Dutch her solidarity and full support.
On Monday, the Dutch foreign ministry issued a travel warning, coaxing its citizens of Turkey to be careful noting the diplomatic constrictions. The warning encouraged people to “avoid gatherings and crowded places”, came as Turkey’s foreign ministry lodged a formal protest with the Dutch envoy. The debate rolled over into the campaign for Wednesday’s general election in the Netherlands, with prime minster Mark Rutte defending in a live televised debate, his verdict to stop Turkish ministers addressing Dutch Turks.
His challenger, Geert Wilders of the far-right, anti-Islam Freedom Party, announced the actual problem was that Turks waving Turkish flags on a Dutch street had shown where their devotion lay. “It is essential to avoid further escalation and find ways to calm down the situation,” said a joint statement by foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn.
The Turkish politician Mevlut Canusoglu who has been minister of Foreign affairs since 24th November 2015 was due to address Turkish expatriates in Rotterdam to win reinforcement for an April 16th referendum vote on the Turkish Constitution. Over ruled by Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party’s, also known as AKP, these sweeping constitutional changes would allocate new powers to Turkey’s President and alter the way the country is governed.
Turkish politicians have sought to address rallies in European cities and towns that have a broad populations of Turkish expatriates, around 1.5 million Turkish nationals living in Germany are qualified to vote in the referendum, according to Turkish news agency Anadolu, but authorities in a proportionate amount of other countries have blocked their plans.
In the latest curve of the tensions, Cavusoglu angered the Dutch by threatening “severe sanctions if he was denied from travelling to the Rotterdam rally”. He also announced “If the Netherlands cancels my flight, we will impose severe sanctions on them that will affect it economically and politically,” the foreign minister said in remarks in a televised interview. He also stated, “If tension will increase between both countries because of my visit, then let it develop.” In a statement posted on his Facebook page, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said: “Many Dutch people with Turkish heritage are voting in the referendum on the Turkish constitution.”
The Dutch will vote on Wednesday in national elections in a campaign that has focused strongly on the affair of immigration from Muslim countries. Fair-right politician Geert Wilders praised the verdict to bar the Turkish minister from speaking in Rotterdam, taking credit due to the influence of his party, the party of freedom or PVV.
The decision by the Dutch was driven by interest that Wilders might win next week’s election, according to Enes Bayrakli (assistant professor of political science at the Turkish-German University in Istanbul). He announced “I think it is a quite a serious diplomatic scandal because Turkey and Holland are allies in NATO and the EU. They have very good relations, and I think the Dutch government took this decision in order to give a message to Geert Wilders in the election. It’s a right-wing populist message. The government is quite concerned it will lose to Geert Wilders, but I think this is a wrong step.” He also stated that “This shows how ridiculous the action of the Dutch government is, in the EU there are no borders between countries. You cannot prevent people traveling from one country to another.” Later on he tweeted that the Turkish “do not have any business in the Netherlands”.
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