What’s Going On With Holland and Turkey?

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Dutch riot police clash with Turkish demonstrators in Rotterdam. (Photo: MARTEN VAN DIJL/AFP/Getty Images)

The saga began when the Netherlands refused to allow rallies for Turkey’s upcoming referendum to be held on Dutch soil, citing security concerns. Planned rallies were also cancelled in Germany and Austria.

Dutch police subsequently blocked Turkish Family Minister Beytül Kaya from entering the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam, despite the fact that the rally she was meant to address had been cancelled. Instead they escorted her to the German border.

The Netherlands also revoked the landing permit for Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu, refusing to allow him entry to the country.

The two had been scheduled to address a rally a rally for Turkish citizenswho reside in the Netherlands. The rally was for supporters of Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdogan and intended to drum up support for an April 16 referendum when Turkey will vote on whether or not to vastly increase the powers of the president.

Hundreds of supporters of Erdogan clashed with Dutch riot police at the consulate in Rotterdam after the event was turned away and Kaya was turned away. Demonstrators had gathered to show support for Erdogan and to protest against the decision to block the ministers. The police dispersed the demonstrators with batons, mounted police and water cannons.

Erdogan took the opportunity to hit back at the Netherlands, accusing them of being Nazis. “I have said that I had thought that Nazism was over, but that I was wrong,” he said. “Nazism is alive in the West.”

There are 400,000 Turks living in the Netherlands.

Turkey has now suspended all high-level political discussions with the Netherlands. They have also banned the Dutch ambassador from returning to the country (he was travelling when the row started) and barred its airspace to Dutch diplomats.

The row comes as Holland prepares to vote in parliamentary elections tomorrow. The leader of the anti-Islam Freedom Party, Geert Wilders, called for the Turkish ambassador to be expelled in protest, saying anything less would be “an insult to us and our police officers.”

“All those people that were standing on the square with Turkish flags showed that they are not Dutch, but Turkish” he added.

Wilders has pledged to close all mosques and ban Muslim immigration to the Netherlands.


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Elliot Friedland

Elliot Friedland is a research fellow at Clarion Project.

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