After an escalating diplomatic row between the two countries, Turkey said Monday that it will not allow the Dutch ambassador to return to Turkey, as part of a suspension of “high-level diplomatic relations.” Deputy Turkish Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus announced the decision Monday in the midst of increasingly strained relations between the two countries.
Last weekend, the Dutch government decline to allow a visit to a political rally by the Turkey’s foreign minister. Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has insisted on answers from the Netherlands on the reasons behind that decision, saying in a CNN interview “Why this time am I a terrorist? Are the Turks living in this country terrorists?”
That decision followed another Dutch move to prevent the Turkish family affairs minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kayafrom, from entering the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam. The minister was escorted out of the country following that decision.
Both moves resulted in violent protests in Rotterdam.
The Dutch government said Cavusoglu was not allowed to attend the rally because of public order and safety concerns, but the minister said no further explanation was given.
“Is there any one single Turkish Turk radicalized? They say no. So what is the security problem then? They don’t give me any detail, I am the foreign minister of Turkey. I am not a terrorist. This is just excuse, unfortunately, to hide the real reasons,” said Cavusoglu.
He added that a surge in Islamophobia, racism, and xenophobia in Europe was the likely cause for the decision. He also suggested that the Netherlands, along with other EU nations, were hoping to block the yes campaign on a Turkish referendum that would give new powers to the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. His planned visit to the Netherlands was to rally support for that campaign among Turkish expatriates in the Netherlands, who are allowed to vote in the referendum.
After the decision to refuse entry to the minister, President Erdogan compared the Dutch government to that of the Nazis. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte demanded an apology in response.
In reference to Erdogan’s comments, Cavusoglu said:
“Such attitudes, such policies and the violations of the European standards and the values and the Vienna conventions never happened since World War II. It didn’t happen even during the World War II and it didn’t happen maybe even during the Nazi (era) … so that is why we are making the comparison.”
He also said he would recommend actions against the Dutch government in response to the decision.
The Dutch government issued travel advice through a Twitter post Monday, telling Dutch citizens in Turkey to “avoid demonstrations and be alert.”
Cavusoglu specified, however, that “We will not target the Dutch people and we will not harm them because it is not their mistake. And the Dutch people are friends of Turkey and so many tourists are coming to Turkey and we have been friends for 400 years.”