ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – Four centuries of good relations between Turkey and the Netherlands instantly hit an all-time low overnight on the weekend.
Authorities in the Dutch city of Rotterdam denied two Turkish ministers permission to go on the stump for an upcoming referendum on giving President Recep Tayyip Erdogan extended powers.
The whole affair began when the Dutch on Saturday canceled a landing permit for the official aircraft of Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte had earlier told Cavusoglu that holding a rally for the Turkish referendum in the Netherlands would “disturb the public order and safety.”
The referendum on Erdogan’s powers is set to take place on April 16, as Dutch general elections are only two days ahead where Rutte’s liberal, leftist coalition government face a challenge by the right-wing Party for Freedom (PVV).
For not allowing his minister to land, Erdogan labeled the Dutch government “fascists and Nazi remnants” during a meeting with his supporters in Istanbul.
Erdogan’s accusations of Nazism were met with harsh criticism from Rutte whose country came under Nazi German occupation and bombing during World War II, saying the Turkish leader “crossed the line.”
Cavusoglu on his part rebuked what he said was an invitation by Rutte to come and see tulips and museums, saying the Dutch PM’s remarks were of frivolity.
“The Ottomans exported those tulips to [the Netherlands]. It turns out those tulips did not make them into men,” Cavusoglu lambasted, according to the privately-owned Dogan new agency.
Moreover, Turkey’s Minister for Family and Social Policies Fatma Kaya who was in Germany announced she would go to Rotterdam by land at night, raising the stakes in the already-tense situation.
Kaya’s arrival in Rotterdam was met with physical obstruction by Dutch police who refused her entry to the Turkish consulate.
Dutch authorities declared Kaya persona non grata on early Sunday and demanded her to immediately leave the country or face the consequences which she found “unacceptable” and vowed to resist.
A video of the face-off between Kaya and the police showed an officer telling her she could even be jailed.
Consequently, the Dutch police arrested the Turkish Minister’s bodyguards and accompanying diplomats, deporting her along with them to Germany.
Meanwhile, riots by Dutch citizens of Turkish origin erupted in Rotterdam at night in confrontations with local police near Turkey’s consulate.
Live coverage of the Rotterdam riot on TV and social media encouraged Turks to take to streets around Dutch diplomatic buildings in Ankara and Istanbul.
Despite a police cordon-off, some attacked buildings with stones and eggs and even replaced the Dutch flag with a Turkish one.
Threats by Erdogan of breaking down all diplomatic and economic bonds followed on Sunday.
“You are sacrificing Turkish-Dutch relations for the elections on Wednesday,” Erdogan said. “You will pay the price for that.”
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany