Erdogan slams Dutch over Cavusoglu ban

Rotterdam city authorities banned Turkey's foreign minister from flying to Rotterdam after barring him from addressing a meeting there in support of a campaign for constitutional change which is being put to a referendum in April.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey, March 11, 2017.

Updated Mar 12, 2017

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday slammed the decision by the Dutch government to withdraw permission for Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to fly to Rotterdam to address a rally of Turks.

Rotterdam city authorities had banned Cavusoglu from addressing a meeting there in support of Turkey's constitutional change which is being put to a referendum in April.

“How will your country’s [diplomatic] flights come here now after not granting permission to our foreign minister?” Erdogan asked the Dutch authorities.

“They neither know politics nor international diplomacy …These are the remains of Nazis, they are fascists,” he added.

Following the incident, Turkey's foreign ministry summoned the Dutch charge d'affaires, ministry sources said.

Cavusoglu was to fly to Rotterdam on Saturday after he was barred from addressing a Turkish rally there.

''I have been threatened by the cancellation of flight clearance. And I have said I will come to Rotterdam. If the Netherlands will cancel my flight permission, if they do that, we will impose harsh economic and political sanctions. We will not accept that. Cancelling the flight permission of our ministers will have heavy results," Cavusoglu  said.

TRT World's Kilmeny Duchardt reports from Ankara.

Hate speech and open racism

Dutch right-wing politician Geert Wilders was accused of hate speech against Islam and Turkey.

The Dutch government were accused of buckling under pressure from Wilders' minority anti-Islam, anti-immigration party, PVV.

Wilders is no stranger to controversy as he often spouts Islamophobic rhetoric.

He went as far as launching a political campaign which calls for the religion to be banned.

Imposing sanctions

Earlier on Saturday, Cavusoglu said Turkey would impose "harsh political and economic sanctions" on the Netherlands if it attempts to cancel his planned meeting there.

"Where is the harm in my visiting the country?" he asked, adding he could travel anywhere as a foreign minister.

"If tension will increase [between the two countries] because of my visit, then let it increase," he commented.

The Netherlands is not the first country to impose such a ban.

Ties between Ankara and Berlin became strained in recent months after Germany banned two domestic rallies that were designed to court the support of the local ethnic Turkish population in support of constitutional changes in Turkey's upcoming referendum.

The ban drew strong criticism from the Turkish government.

"Europe needs right-minded politicians," Cavusoglu said.

The minister also confirmed that Erdogan "is thinking of a visit to Germany" but the date and place has not been decided yet.

TRTWorld and agencies