Turkey's foreign ministry said the EU was exercising democratic values "selectively." Turkey also levied sanctions against the Netherlands for its treatment of expatriate Turkish nationals, and visiting politicians from Ankara.

Pro-Turkish protesters outside the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam, Netherlands on March 11, 2017.
Pro-Turkish protesters outside the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam, Netherlands on March 11, 2017.

Turkey's foreign ministry on Tuesday said the European Union was exercising democratic values selectively and that it should not be standing by the Netherlands, which Ankara accused of violating human rights and European values.

"EU counterparts are exercising democratic values and basic rights and freedoms selectively," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The foreign ministry was referring to a series of statements and actions by EU member countries barring emissaries from Ankara campaigning among expatriate Turkish communities ahead of an April 16 referendum in Turkey that would increase presidential powers.

In the most recent incident, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday accused the Dutch of being "spineless" during the Bosnian war.

"Even a war has its ethics. You cannot open fire on medics, unless you are like the Dutch. We know what the Netherlands did during the Srebrenica genocide. We knew how spineless they were when they murdered 8,000 Bosnians. No one should try to teach us what civilization is. This nation has a proud history, but they have a shameful one."

Turkish politicians were also barred from speaking in the Netherlands on the weekend. Dutch police used tactics against protesters that included dogs and water cannons.

"It is very grave for the EU to hide behind member country solidarity and stand by the Netherlands, which has clearly violated human rights and European values," Ankara said.

In a joint statement on Monday, EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn called on Turkey to refrain from "excessive statements" to avoid further escalating the dispute.

Mogherini and Hahn's statement included "inaccurate assessments," Ankara said in response.

"It should be understood that the EU's statement... actually helps the cause of extremes such as xenophobia and anti-Turkish sentiment," the foreign ministry said.

According to Turkey's Supreme Electoral Council, almost three million eligible voters live outside Turkey in dozens of countries, many of them in Europe.

The Netherlands and Germany have barred Turkey from campaigning ahead of the referendum, while Switzerland and Austria have announced that they too will block any form of campaigning by the Turkish government.

Sanctions against Netherlands

The dispute between Turkey and the Netherlands started when the Dutch government barred Turkey's foreign minister from landing in the Netherlands on Saturday and then asked Turkey's family affairs minister to leave the country after she drove to the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam.

Since then, Turkey has sanctioned the Netherlands and is threatening the EU with broader measures, including revisions to a refugee deal that has radically slowed illegal immigration into Europe.

Turkey's President President Tayyip Erdogan accused the Dutch government of acting like "Nazi remnants" for barring his ministers.

Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus described the treatment of Turkish ministers by the Dutch as "footsteps of the far-right, of the neo-fascism and neo-Nazism that has been on the rise in Europe in the past five or six years."

In the wake of events on the weekend, Turkey froze diplomatic communication with the Netherlands, but has not yet imposed economic measures.

TRT World's Andrew Hopkins in Ankara and Simon McGregor-Wood in Amsterdam have more.

Netherlands reaction

Netherlands' Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Tuesday said the sanctions were "not too bad," but were inappropriate as the Dutch have more to be angry about.

"I continue to find it bizarre that in Turkey they're talking about sanctions when you see that we have reasons to be very angry about what happened this weekend."

Source: TRTWorld and agencies