One week after Turkey president, and wannabe tyrant, Tayyip Erdogan launched a new diplomatic scandal when he accused Germany of “fascist actions” reminiscent of “Nazi practices” after various rallies organized by Turkish minister in Germany were cancelled ahead of an April referendum on granting Erdogan sweeping new presidential powers, he doubled down on Saturday after the Netherlands barred Turkey’s Foreign Minister from flying to Rotterdam, to which Erdogan responded by calling the Dutch “fascists” and his NATO partner a Nazi remnant” as the scandal over Ankara campaigning among emigre Turkish voters intensified.
“Listen Netherlands, you’ll jump once, you’ll jump twice, but my people will thwart your game,” Erdogan said. “You can cancel our foreign minister’s flight as much as you want, but let’s see how your flights come to Turkey now. They don’t know diplomacy or politics. They are Nazi remnants. They are fascists.”
Shortly after Erdogan’s comments, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s remark comparing the Dutch to the Nazis was “way out of line.”
“It’s a crazy remark of course,” Rutte told journalists during campaigning for the March 15 election. “I understand they’re angry, but this of course was way out of line.”
Rotterdam banned Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from attending a Turkish rally in support of Erdogan’s drive for sweeping new powers, to be put to a referendum next month, Reuters reported.
Landing rights for the flight of Cavusoglu were withdrawn, the Dutch Foreign Ministry said Saturday in a statement. The government acted after an invitation to Turks to “participate in a public meeting” with Cavusoglu in Rotterdam put “public order and safety in jeopardy.”
With Netherlands itself set to hold a national election on March 15, in which anti-immigration sentiment has played a prominent role with nationalist candidate Geert Wilders calling Erdogan a dictator, the Dutch have been especially careful how they tread vis-a-vis Turkey. However, today’s ban has prompted a lashing out which may well boost the recently deflated Wilders’ anti-immigration campaign.
After being grounded, Cavusoglu said on Saturday morning he would fly to Rotterdam anyway and accused the Dutch of treating Turkish citizens in the country like “hostages”.
“I sent them so they could contribute to your economy … They’re not your captives,” he told CNN Turk television.
“If my going will increase tensions, let it be. What damage will my going have on them? I am a foreign minister and I can go wherever I want,” he said before the Dutch barred his flight.
Cavusoglu had threatened harsh economic and political sanctions if the Dutch refused him entry, a threat that proved decisive for the Netherlands government. According to Reuters, the Dutch cited public order and security concerns in withdrawing landing rights for Cavusoglu’s flight. But it said the sanctions threat made the search for a reasonable solution impossible.
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte said that while the Netherlands and Turkey could search for “an acceptable solution”, Turkey was not respecting the rules relating to public gatherings. “Many Dutch people with a Turkish background are authorized to vote in the referendum over the Turkish constitution. The Dutch government does not have any protest against gatherings in our country to inform them about it,” he said on Facebook. “But these gatherings may not contribute to tensions in our society and everyone who wants to hold a gathering is obliged to follow instructions of those in authority so that public order and safety can be guaranteed,” Rutte added.
In addition to Germany and the Netherlands, four other planned Turkish rallies in Austria and one in Switzerland have also been cancelled in the dispute. Chancellor Merkel, whose country Erdogan also compared last week with Nazi Germany, has said she will do everything possible to prevent any spillover of Turkish political tensions onto German soil.
Meanwhile, Cavusoglu said Turks in Germany were under systematic pressure from police and intelligence services.
The reason for the ongoing rallies which are alienating the already scandal-plagued Turkey from its (former) European allies is that Erdogan is looking to the large number of emigre Turks living in Europe, especially Germany and the Netherlands, to help clinch victory in next month’s referendum which will shape the future of a country whose location on the edge of the Middle East makes it of crucial strategic importance to NATO and explains why despite the ongoing diplomatic fallout, Western “leaders” have engaged in little more than polite diplomatic rebuttals.
Erdogan cited domestic threats from Kurdish and Islamist militants and a July coup bid as cause to vote “yes” to his new powers. But he has also drawn on the emotionally charged row with Europe to portray Turkey as betrayed by allies, facing wars on its southern borders and in need of strong leadership.
More importantly, Cavusoglu has made a veiled threat of possible realignment of Turkey in the world in a reference to Russia. “The Netherlands should stop this faulty understanding and approach…If they think Turkey will take whatever they do, that Turkey is gone. I told them this, stop this boss-like attitude. If Europe keeps this up, they will lose many places, including Russia and us.”
The scandal comes one day after Erdogan flew to Moscow for his latest summit with Vladimir Putin during which he said that “we can say with certainty that our countries have returned to the path of authentic multi-faceted partnership,” Putin said at a news conference following expanded talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Moscow, to which Putin responded “I’d like to emphasize that we view Turkey as our key partner. We are ready to maintain active political dialogue at the highest level.”