Turkey's family affairs minister was barred from entering the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam and escorted to Germany hours after Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was denied permission to land in the Netherlands.

Police block off the street outside the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam where a crowd gathered to await the arrival of the Turkish Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya.
Police block off the street outside the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam where a crowd gathered to await the arrival of the Turkish Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya.

Dutch police besieged the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam and blocked Turkey's family affairs minister from entering the building in an escalation of a diplomatic row between the Netherlands and Turkey.

The development followed the Netherlands government's decision to bar Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from visiting the country, where he was due to address the Turkish community in a rally in Rotterdam earlier on Saturday. In an interview with TRT World, Cavusoglu confirmed that the Dutch police had besieged the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam amid strong protest.

The Netherlands is home to some 400,000 people of Turkish origin, and Ankara is keen to harness votes of the diaspora in Europe ahead of the April 16 referendum on creating an executive presidency. Efforts to organise similar rallies in Germany were also blocked. Germany is home to 1.4 million people eligible to vote in Turkey.

Minister escorted to Germany

Turkish Family Affairs Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya's vehicle was intercepted by Dutch police after she entered the country from Germany late on Saturday. The mayor of Rotterdam said Kaya was being escorted back to the border with Germany.

Kaya had travelled by road to the Netherlands from neighbouring Germany after the Dutch government revoked landing rights for a plane carrying Turkey's foreign minister.

Kaya said through her twitter account early on Sunday that she was being taken to the town of Nijmegen, near the border with Germany, adding that she condemned the Dutch authorities' action in "the name of all of our citizens."

Turkey's response

Cavusoglu, who was barred from a similar meeting in the German city of Hamburg earlier this week but spoke instead from the Turkish consulate, accused the Dutch of treating the many Turkish citizens in the country like hostages, cutting them off from Ankara.

In response to Saturday's events, Turkey's foreign ministry said that it did not want the Dutch ambassador, who is out of the country, to return to his post.

Turkish authorities sealed off the Dutch embassy and consulate for "security reasons", the foreign ministry said.

Protesters gathered outside the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam in large numbers. Source: Reuters
Protesters gathered outside the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam in large numbers. Source: Reuters

Dutch move criticised

The former foreign minister of the Netherlands criticised the Dutch government's move to cancel Turkish minister's flight permit.

The former minister from Christian Democratic Party, Ben Bot criticised Prime Minister Rutte and said the to bar the Turkish officials was "wrong".

"In my opinion, this [move] is closely related to elections. We defended democracy and human rights," Bot was quoted as saying by Anadolu Agency.

Bot said the move was contrary to democracy values, adding: "We took a wrong step."

Protests in Rotterdam, Ankara and Istanbul

Several hundred demonstrators waving Turkish flags gathered outside the Turkish consulate in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, demanding to see the Turkish minister for family affairs. There were similar protests outside the Dutch embassy and consulate in Ankara and Istanbul.

In Rotterdam there was a large police presence, and after several hours of calm the protesters were being dispersed using water canons. Television footage showed the police also carrying out mounted charges on horseback to break the protest.

"The people are very angry tonight. They feel that their freedom of expression has been denied. We are demonstrating because we want to hear our ministers speak," Said Marti, 50, from Rotterdam, said..

TRT World's Kilmeny Duchardt explains how the row escalated

Source: TRTWorld and agencies