“The Netherlands will not let itself be blackmailed.”
PM wants to de-escalate row after turning back Turkish ministers
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.
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