Leaders of European Union countries have criticized Turkey, while the dispute over the Turkish government’s attempts to hold rallies in European countries has been growing since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Germany and the Netherlands of “Nazism” and “fascism” because officials blocked rallies there.
Erdogan warned the Netherlands Sunday it would “pay a price” for refusing to allow Ankara’s foreign minister into the country and expelling another minister to keep them from holding rallies with Turkish immigrants.
Ankara wants to drum up support among millions of Turks who live and work in Europe to vote to give Erdogan more powers, which could lead to him remaining in office until 2029.
Officials slam Erdogan remarks
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte called Erdogan’s comments “unacceptable,” and his Nazi comment “a crazy remark.”
“Turkey is a proud nation; the Netherlands is a proud nation,” Rutte said.”We can never do business under those sorts of threats and blackmail.”
German ministers have also hardened their remarks against Turkey.
Despite a statement by Chancellor Angela Merkel that her government was not opposed to Turkish ministers attending rallies in Germany – as long as they are “duly announced” – Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said he was opposed to Turkish political gatherings in Germany. “A Turkish campaign has no business being here in Germany,” de Maiziere told local media.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said he hoped Turkey would “return to its senses.” Separately, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Turkey had “destroyed the basis for further progress in co-operation.”
Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said Erdogan was not welcome to hold rallies there as this could increase friction and hinder integration.
Denmark’s prime minister, Lars Lokke Rasmussen, said he was concerned that “democratic principles are under great pressure” in Turkey.Rasmussen also postponed a planned meeting with Erdogan, saying “with the current Turkish attacks on Holland, the meeting cannot be seen separated from that.”
A gathering in France, however, went ahead after local officials said it did not pose a threat.
Dutch block Turkish ministers
The two Ankara officials – Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya – were trying to rally Turkish immigrants in the Netherlands with Turkish voting rights to support Erdogan’s bid to win a referendum next month to give him sweeping new powers.
The Dutch government, facing a tough re-election contest Wednesday against the anti-Islam party of Geert Wilders, barred Cavusoglu from flying to Rotterdam.It then blocked Kaya from entering the Turkish embassy in the port city before escorting her out of the country to Germany.
Dutch far-right leader Wilders waded into the debate this past week ahead of a planned rally in The Hague where the Dutch parliament is located.
“We are in Holland here, not in Turkey, and a Turkish minister has no room here to lobby for somebody like Erdogan, who is a mere dictator,” Wilders said.
An angry Erdogan told a ceremony in Istanbul, “Hey Holland! If you are sacrificing Turkish-Dutch relations for the sake of the elections on Wednesday, you will pay a price.”
Earlier Sunday, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said in a statement that Turkey would retaliate against Amsterdam in the “harshest ways” and “respond in kind to this unacceptable behavior.”
Ankara barred the Dutch ambassador from returning to Turkey, with Cavusoglu saying, “we have other steps in mind.We’ve already begun planning them.We will certainly take those steps and more.”Turkish officials sealed off the Dutch embassy in Ankara.