Row after Netherlands cancels landing permission for Turkish minister's plane

The Dutch government on Saturday barred a Turkish foreign minister's aircraft from landing, drawing a furious reaction from the Turkish president and escalating a diplomatic dispute between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies over campaigning for a Turkish referendum on constitutional reform.

His remarks came amid an ongoing standoff between Turkey and the Netherlands after the Dutch government banned planned rallies of Turkish ministers ahead of the referendum.

On Saturday, the Dutch government first cancelled the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu's flight permit to the Netherlands and then blocked a convoy carrying Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya and forced her to leave the country under police escort.

Similar cancelations in Germany led Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to accuse Berlin of "Nazi practices", a jibe which drew a sharp rebuke from Germany's leaders, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, who labeled the comparison as "unacceptable".

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte responded to journalists, while he campaigned on Saturday. "I wonder if they know that I am mayor of a city that was bombed by the Nazis", he said in a response to Erdogan's claims.

Hours later, Turkish officials closed off the embassy and consulate in Ankara, along with the residences of the Dutch ambassador, charge d'affaires and consul general.

Later during a speech in France, Cavusoglu described the Netherlands as the "capital of fascism" in criticizing it for joining other European countries in banning Turkish ministers campaigning.

Ironically, although Turkish authorities comment angrily about the suppression of peaceful, democratic Turkish assemblies, critics contend that Erdogan's referendum is a method for entrenching his authoritarian rule. Turkey will "surely have sanctions" against the Netherlands, Turkish EU Minister Omer Celik told Reuters Monday.

Turkey has said the Netherlands will be forced to apologise for barring its ministers from speaking in Rotterdam, the latest twist in a spat between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies.

Turkey summoned the Dutch envoy in Ankara to complain about the actions of Rotterdam police against Turkish protesters over the weekend as a row over Ankara's political campaigning overseas widened. She was planning to meet local Turkish diaspora representatives to inform them of Turkey's upcoming referendum.

Speaking during a head-to-head debate broadcast live on Dutch TV, Mr Wilders branded his opponent the "prime minister of foreigners".

"If my going will increase tensions, let it be", he told CNN Turk.

"You are not the prime minister of the Netherlands, but of the foreigners". "The Turkish government is right and to a limited extent the Europeans as well", said Eralp.

The Netherlands, which had asked the minister not to come, revoked landing permission for his plane.

Mr. Wilders hit back, saying: "We have a fifth column in the Netherlands". The ties between Ankara and Berlin strained in recent months after a ban on rallies by the Turkish ministers in Germany.

  • Joey Payne