Turkey's Erdogan renews war of words on Netherlands
ANKARA, Turkey (AP):
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday directed fresh verbal attacks at the Netherlands amid their growing diplomatic spat, holding the country responsible for Europe's worst mass killing since World War II. In a televised speech, Erdogan referred to the massacre of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica, eastern Bosnia, in 1995, and blamed a Dutch battalion of United Nations peacekeepers who failed to halt the slaughter by Bosnian Serb forces.
Erdogan said: "We know the Netherlands and the Dutch from the Srebrenica massacre. We know how rotten their character is from their massacre of 8,000 Bosnians there."
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte condemned Erdogan's comments, calling them a "disgusting distortion of history."
"We will not lower ourselves to this level. It is totally unacceptable," Rutte told Dutch broadcaster RTL Z.
It was the latest in Erdogan's war of words on the Netherlands, which prevented two Turkish ministers from holding campaign rallies in the country over the weekend.
The two ministers had sought to campaign in an April 16 referendum on expanding Erdogan's powers, courting the votes of eligible Turks in the Netherlands. Around 400,000 people with ties to Turkey live in the Netherlands.
The Turkish leader previously called the Netherlands "Nazi remnants" and also accused it of "fascism".
Earlier, Turkey criticized the European Union for siding with the Netherlands in the row. In a statement yesterday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said the EU's stance on Turkey was "short-sighted" and "carried no value" for Turkey, as well as lending "credence" to extremists.