Turkey leader: Dutch to ‘pay the price’ for snubs

Austin American-Statesman - - MORE OF TODAY’S TOP NEWS - By Mike Corder, Cinar Kiper and Raf Casert

Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan in­ten­si­fied his dis­pute with Euro­pean na­tions Sun­day, claim­ing that “Nazism is alive in the West” af­ter two of his min­is­ters were pre­vented from cam­paign­ing in the Nether­lands and promis­ing that the Dutch would “pay the price” for their un­usual ac­tion.

While Dutch Prime Min­is­ter Mark Rutte worked to con­tain the diplo­matic dam­age, Er­do­gan made it clear that Turkey would not be eas­ily ap­peased.

He said Ankara would re­tal­i­ate for the treat­ment of the Turk­ish fam­ily af­fairs min­is­ter, who on Satur­day was blocked by po­lice in riot gear from en­ter­ing Turkey’s con­sulate in Rotterdam.

That came hours af­ter Turk­ish For­eign Min­is­ter Mev­lut Cavu­soglu was de­nied air­port land­ing rights to ad­dress a Rotterdam rally.

Say­ing that he was wrong to think Nazism was over, Er­do­gan made the com­ment to an au­di­ence in Is­tan­bul. The re­marks were sim­i­lar to ones he made about Ger­many ear­lier this month.

The Dutch prime min­ster said it was im­por­tant for his gov­ern­ment not to bow to pres­sure from Turkey, es­pe­cially af­ter Ankara threat­ened sanc­tions if the Dutch kept Turk­ish min­is­ters out.

“Turkey is a proud na­tion. The Nether­lands is a proud na­tion. We can never do busi­ness un­der those sorts of threats and black­mail,” said Mark Rutte, whose party is locked in a neck-and-neck race with pop­ulist fire­brand Geert Wilders.

To bol­ster sup­port for an April 16 ref­er­en­dum that would ex­pand the pow­ers of Turkey’s pres­i­dent, Turk­ish cabi­net min­is­ters have sched­uled cam­paign trips to sev­eral Euro­pean coun­tries with siz­able pop­u­la­tions of Turk­ish ex­pa­tri­ates.

How­ever, some Euro­pean na­tions have com­plained that Turkey un­der Er­do­gan is slip­ping to­ward au­thor­i­tar­ian prac­tices, es­pe­cially since last sum­mer’s aborted coup. Rutte cited that con­cern in ask­ing Cavu­soglu not to come to the Nether­lands.

The furor be­tween two NATO al­lies comes at a cru­cial time in the Nether­lands, where is­sues of Dutch iden­tity, re­la­tions with mi­grants and Is­lam have taken cen­ter stage in the run-up to a na­tional elec­tion Wed­nes­day.

Rutte’s ac­tions, which came two days af­ter sev­eral Ger­man mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties can­celed ral­lies that Turk­ish Cabi­net min­is­ters had planned to ad­dress, prompted Er­do­gan on Satur­day to ac­cuse the Dutch of be­ing “Nazi rem­nants.”

On Sun­day, he heaped on more crit­i­cism while de­mand­ing an apol­ogy from the Dutch.

Dutch For­eign Min­is­ter Bert Koen­ders said no apolo­gies would be forth­com­ing.

AP

Turkey’s Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan ap­plauds fol­low­ing a rally in Is­tan­bul on Sun­day. The es­ca­lat­ing dis­pute be­tween Turkey and the Nether­lands con­tin­ued Sun­day with Er­do­gan call­ing the Dutch fas­cists af­ter snubs of his Cabi­net of­fi­cials.

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