Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the two countries were ready to normalise diplomatic relations, following a meeting with his Dutch counterpart Stef Blok at the NATO summit last week.

The diplomatic spat between the Hague and Ankara when the Dutch government barred Turkish government officials from visiting Turks in Rotterdam on the eve of general elections in the Netherlands and a referendum in Turkey.
The diplomatic spat between the Hague and Ankara when the Dutch government barred Turkish government officials from visiting Turks in Rotterdam on the eve of general elections in the Netherlands and a referendum in Turkey. (Reuters)

Turkey and the Netherlands have decided to normalise bilateral relations, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in an interview with Anadolu Agency on Friday.

During the interview, Cavusoglu said he met his Dutch counterpart Stef Blok on the sidelines of the NATO Summit in Brussels and discussed the regretful events that took place in March 2017.

Underscoring the need to leave behind issues that block the two countries’ strategic co-operation on a range of issues, Cavusoglu said: “My Dutch counterpart has conveyed a letter to me and affirmed willingness to normalise relations. Upon his letter, I have also spoke to him over the phone and agreed to pave the way for our relations.”

“In this context, we agreed to make a joint statement as a first step. We also agreed to bilaterally reinstate our ambassadors shortly."

Cavusoglu further noted: “I have also invited my Dutch counterpart to visit Turkey in efforts to determine roadmap that would restore our relations to its initial state and to re-establish the dialogue and trust between the two countries.”

Noting that a big Turkish community comprising around 450,000 people were living in the Netherlands, Cavusoglu asserted that Turkey's foreign policy would be in accordance with the country’s national interests.

TRT World's Oubai Shahbandar reports from Ankara.

Historical ties

According to the joint statement, the two ministers affirmed that Turkey and Netherlands have had intensive relations for more than four centuries and have been NATO allies for over six decades and enjoy substantial trade and investment ties.

“Cavusoglu and Blok underlined the importance of strategic cooperation between both countries on a range of issues, such as migration, combatting terrorism and fostering economic cooperation."

"Following this positive meeting at the NATO Summit, both ministers took the initiative to contact one another again,” the statement added.

Relations between the two countries were wrecked in March 2017 after the Netherlands barred two Turkish ministers from campaigning to expatriate Turks in the Netherlands ahead of an April referendum that changed Turkey’s governance to an executive presidency. Dutch police used dogs and water cannons to disperse the crowd that gathered to protest the ban.

The spat also happened on the eve of the Netherlands’ general elections, which anti-Islam, far-right, Eurosceptic candidate Geert Wilders was contesting. The spat with Turkey helped incumbent Prime Minister Mark Rutte to win the elections again.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said anti-Islam Dutch politician Geert Wilders' views were shared by all rival parties and were pushing Europe towards "wars of religion," irrespective of his loss in the Netherlands election.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the Dutch “Nazi remnants” and Turkey halted all high-level political discussions, saying it would impose political sanctions.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies