Dutch can­cel Turk­ish for­eign min­is­ter’s visit amid spi­ral­ing re­la­tions

The Washington Post Sunday - - THE WORLD - BY KA­REEM FAHIM ka­reem.fahim@wash­post.com Amar Nad­hir in Bucharest, Ro­ma­nia, con­trib­uted to this re­port.

is­tan­bul — The Dutch gov­ern­ment on Satur­day pre­vented Turkey’s for­eign min­is­ter from vis­it­ing the Nether­lands to ad­dress Turk­ish vot­ers there in a breach of diplo­matic pro­to­col that re­flected sharply wors­en­ing ten­sions be­tween Turkey and Europe.

The Dutch gov­ern­ment said in a state­ment it had de­cided to with­draw land­ing rights for the for­eign min­is­ter, Mev­lut Cavu­soglu, be­cause of the “risks to pub­lic or­der and se­cu­rity” that a visit by him would pose. Ear­lier Satur­day, Cavu­soglu had warned that Turkey would im­pose sanc­tions on the Nether­lands if his flight was can­celed, ac­cord­ing to lo­cal Turk­ish me­dia.

Re­act­ing to the can­cel­la­tion, Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan called the Dutch “Nazi rem­nants” and “fas­cists” and sug­gested that Dutch diplo­mats would be pre­vented from trav­el­ing to Turkey. Late Satur­day, en­tries and ex­its at the Dutch Em­bassy in Ankara and the con­sulate in Is­tan­bul were closed for se­cu­rity rea­sons, the Associated Press re­ported.

The in­tense diplo­matic ar­gu­ments high­lighted the heat gen­er­ated by an up­com­ing ref­er­en­dum in Turkey on sev­eral con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments that could trans­form its sys­tem of gov­ern­ment and vastly ex­pand Er­do­gan’s pow­ers. In the run-up to the vote, set for April 16, sev­eral Euro­pean na­tions, in­clud­ing the Nether­lands and Ger­many, have can­celed ap­pear­ances by Turk­ish min­is­ters sup­port­ing Er­do­gan as the min­is­ters try to sway Turk­ish vot­ers in the di­as­pora.

The Turk­ish cam­paign co­in­cides with a fraught elec­tion sea­son in Europe that has seen a surge in pop­u­lar­ity for rightwing, anti-im­mi­gra­tion can­di­dates. Na­tion­al­ist or anti-Mus­lim politi­cians such as Geert Wilders in the Nether­lands have called for Turk­ish politi­cians to be barred from cam­paign­ing in their coun­tries — adding to the pres­sure on Euro­pean lead­ers to ac­com­mo­date such sen­ti­ments.

Wilders, whose Free­dom Party is ex­pected to be a lead­ing voteget­ter in the Dutch elec­tion set for Wed­nes­day, ap­peared to rel­ish the spat Satur­day be­tween his gov­ern­ment and Turkey’s.

“Oh yes,” he said in a tweet. “I say it to all Turks in the Nether­lands who agree with Er­do­gan: GO back to Turkey and NEVER come back.”

The breach in re­la­tions with the Nether­lands comes as Turkey and Ger­many are en­gaged in a sim­i­larly bit­ter dis­pute that could threaten a Euro­pean Union deal with Ankara to stem the flow of mi­grants — a crit­i­cal is­sue in Ger­many, where more than 1 mil­lion asy­lum seek­ers have ar­rived over the past two years.

As the ar­gu­ments ramp up, Er­do­gan could stand to ben­e­fit from a per­cep­tion that Euro­pean coun­tries have been try­ing to in­ter­fere in Turkey’s elec­tion. On Satur­day, as news of the for­eign min­is­ter’s can­celed visit reached Turkey, a hash­tag in Turk­ish caught fire: “Naziprac­ti­ceinHol­land.”


Peo­ple walk in front of a build­ing dis­play­ing a large ban­ner of Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan in Is­tan­bul.

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