World Bulletin / News Desk
The confrontation between Turkey and some EU countries reached boiling point at the weekend, when Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was refused permission to land in the Netherlands and Family and Social Affairs Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya was deported from the country.
Earlier, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the Dutch authorities of behaving like Nazis -- a repeat of an insult made against Germany the previous week. He also led claims of Islamophobia.
“I call on all EU institutions and all institutions working to protect democracy, human rights and the rule of law to raise their voices against the Netherlands and even impose sanctions on it,” the president said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim criticized the “dictatorial practices of those who give us democracy lessons.”
Turkey is to hold a referendum on April 16 on increasing Erdogan’s powers in which 2.5 million Turkish nationals in Europe are eligible to vote.
As in previous elections, ministers campaigning for a Yes vote have sought to address rallies in European countries with large Turkish communities.
However, such rallies have been cancelled in Germany and the Netherlands with venue owners or local authorities often citing security concerns.
At the heart of the accusations of double standards lies the acceptance of events held by No campaigners in European cities.
- No vote meetings
Metin Feyzioglu, the president of the Turkish Bar Association, held a meeting at a Rotterdam hotel on Feb. 18 to push for a No vote. He was accompanied by Keklik Yucel, a lawmaker for the Labor Party, which is the junior party in the Dutch government.
Abdullatif Sener, a former deputy prime minister under Erdogan, also held meetings on March 3-5 in the Netherlands on “Why to vote No in the referendum” that were widely covered by local media.
Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Tugba Hezer Ozturk was allowed to address a crowd of Turkish nationals on March 4 to push for a No vote.
On Tuesday, the Netherlands holds a general election and the row with Turkey has played into the hands of Geert Wilders’ far-right Party for Freedom.
Critics of the Dutch stance on foreign politicians campaigning in the Netherlands have pointed to election-related events held in other countries such as the U.K.
In January, the embassy in London hosted lawmakers from the Labor Party, the Party for Freedom and the Democrats 66.
Erdogan said Turkey would wait for the election outcome before deciding on its future policy towards Amsterdam, amid calls for sanctions to be imposed on the Netherlands.
“If you are sacrificing Turkish-Dutch relations for an election, you will pay the price,” he said.
Elsewhere, the German-language Swiss newspaper Blick on Sunday called for a No vote “against Erdogan’s dictatorship”.
EU ministers have been among the most critical of Turkey’s response to last July’s coup attempt, accusing Ankara of sidelining human rights and the rule of law as tens of thousands of suspects are arrested and hundreds of thousands more dismissed or suspended from their jobs.