Turkish leader says Dutch will 'pay the price' for insult
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan intensified his dispute with European nations yesterday, claiming that "Nazism is alive in the West" after two of his ministers were prevented from campaigning in the Netherlands and promising that the Dutch would "pay the price" for their unusual action.
While Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte worked to contain the diplomatic damage, Erdogan made it clear that Turkey would not be easily appeased.
He said Ankara would retaliate for the treatment of the Turkish family affairs minister, who, on Saturday, was blocked by police in riot gear from entering her country's consulate in Rotterdam.
DENIED LANDING RIGHTS
That came hours after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was denied airport landing rights to address crowds at a Rotterdam rally.
Saying that he was wrong to think Nazism was over, Erdogan made the comment to an audience in Istanbul. The remarks were similar to ones he made about Germany earlier this month.
The Dutch prime minster said it was important for his government not to bow to pressure from Turkey, especially after Ankara threatened sanctions if the Dutch kept Turkish ministers out.
"Turkey is a proud nation. The Netherlands is a proud nation. We can never do business under those sorts of threats and blackmail," said Mark Rutte, whose party is locked in a neck-and-neck race with populist firebrand Geert Wilders.
To bolster support for an April 16 referendum that would expand the powers of Turkey's president, Turkish cabinet ministers have scheduled campaign trips to several European countries with sizable populations of Turkish expatriates.
However, some European nations have complained that Turkey under Erdogan is slipping toward authoritarian practices, especially since last summer's aborted coup. Rutte cited that concern in asking Cavusoglu not to come to the Netherlands.
The furor between two NATO allies comes at a crucial time in the Netherlands, where issues of Dutch identity, relations with migrant communities and Islam have taken centre stage in the run-up to a national election on Wednesday.
Rutte's actions, which came two days after several German municipalities cancelled rallies that Turkish cabinet ministers had planned to address, prompted Erdogan on Saturday to accuse the Dutch of being "Nazi remnants".