Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan applauds following a rally in Istanbul, Sunday, March 12, 2017. The escalating dispute between Turkey and the Netherlands spilled over into Sunday, with a Turkish minister unable to enter her consulate after the authorities there …
By Suzan Fraser
Tensions between Turkey and Western Europe simmered Monday, with Turkey’s foreign ministry formally protesting the treatment of a Turkish minister who was escorted out of the Netherlands over the weekend and what Turkey called a “disproportionate” use of force against demonstrators at a protest afterward.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel weighed in on the Netherlands‘ side, NATO’s chief called for alliance members to respect each other, and the European Union urged Turkey to calm down.
The flap is over the Netherlands‘ refusal to allow Turkish officials to campaign there to drum up support among Turks who are eligible to vote in an April 16 referendum that would greatly expand the powers of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan’s strong reaction to scenes of Dutch police repelling Turkish protesters is fueling nationalism back home and bolstering his image as a protector of Turkish people against a hostile world.
Turkey had a similar dispute with Germany last week, but the fight with the Netherlands comes as that country prepares for its own election Wednesday pitting Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s right-wing PVV Party against far-right, anti-Islam populist Geert Wilders’ party. Wilders had called on the Dutch government to bar Turkish ministers from the Netherlands until after the election.
Rutte, who did not want to be seen backing down to Turkish threats, enraged Ankara by refusing to let Turkey’s foreign minister land in the Netherlands on Saturday and denying the country’s family and social policies minister access to the Turkish Consulate in downtown Rotterdam.
Erdogan vowed to retaliate against the Netherlands after claiming that “Nazism is alive in the West.”