“The Nether­lands will not let it­self be black­mailed.”

PM wants to de-es­ca­late row after turn­ing back Turk­ish min­is­ters

New Straits Times - - World - MARK RUTTE, Dutch prime min­is­ter

PRIME Min­is­ter Mark Rutte said yes­ter­day he would do every­thing to “de-es­ca­late” a diplo­matic con­fronta­tion with

Turkey he de­scribed as the worst the Nether­lands has ex­pe­ri­enced in years, after two ma­jor in­ci­dents on Satur­day.

Turkey told the Nether­lands that it would re­tal­i­ate in the “harsh­est ways” after its min­is­ters were barred from speak­ing in Rot­ter­dam in a row over Ankara’s po­lit­i­cal cam­paign­ing among Turk­ish emi­gres.

“I’ve never ex­pe­ri­enced this be­fore, but we want to be the more pru­dent party,” Rutte said.

“If they es­ca­late, we will have to re­spond, but we will do every­thing in our power to de-es­ca­late,” he added.

First, on Satur­day, Turkey at­tempted to send its for­eign min­is­ter to the Nether­lands to hold a rally among Dutch-Turk­ish im­mi­grants in sup­port of a ref­er­en­dum, which aimed to give Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan new pow­ers. The Nether­lands, which had asked the min­is­ter not to come, re­voked land­ing per­mis­sion for his plane.

Later, Turkey’s Fam­ily Af­fairs Min­is­ter Fatma Be­tul Sayan Kaya trav­elled from Ger­many and at­tempted to ad­dress a crowd in Rot­ter­dam. She was stopped by po­lice, de­clared an un­de­sir­able alien and es­corted back to the Ger­man bor­der. Around 2,000 Er­do­gan sup­port­ers demon­strat­ing with Turk­ish flags in front of the Turk­ish con­sulate in Rot­ter­dam were dis­persed in the early hours by mil­i­tary po­lice us­ing horse­back charges and wa­ter can­nons.

Er­do­gan threat­ened the Nether­lands with eco­nomic sanc­tions and called the Dutch gov­ern­ment “Nazi rem­nants and fas­cists”.

“The Nether­lands will not let it­self be black­mailed,” Rutte said yes­ter­day.

Rutte, who is run­ning neck and neck with anti-Is­lam politi­cian Geert Wilders in elec­tions on Wed­nes­day, said the Nether­lands was within its rights to block Turk­ish ral­lies here. Around 500,000 Turk­ish im­mi­grants live in the Nether­lands, most hold­ing dual na­tion­al­ity and are el­i­gi­ble to vote in both coun­tries.

AGENCY PIX

A po­lice­man try­ing to get his dog to let go of a man after ri­ots broke out dur­ing a rally at the Turk­ish con­sulate in Rot­ter­dam yes­ter­day. (Left) A Turk­ish flag fly­ing on the roof of the Dutch con­sulate in Is­tan­bul after pro­test­ers broke into the premises and raised the flag.

Fatma Be­tul Sayan Kaya

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