Turkey-Dutch Tension Rises Over Minister Ban

The escalating dispute between  Turkey and the Netherlands hit a new low Sunday, with a Turkish minister escorted out of the country as persona non grata, less than a day after Turkey’s foreign minister was denied entry, prompting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to call the Dutch “Nazi remnants.”

The diplomatic standoff was over plans by Turkish government officials to campaign in the Netherlands for a referendum back home. Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya had arrived in the country from Germany but was prevented from entering Turkey’s diplomatic compound in Rotterdam, setting up an extraordinary standoff with armed police. She was later sent under escort back to Germany.

As she was approaching the German border, Kaya wrote that “the whole world must take action against this fascist practice! Such a treatment against a woman minister cannot be accepted.”

The Dutch were equally angry and Prime Minister Mark Rutte called Erdogan’s Nazi comment “a crazy remark,” while Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb said the Turkish consul general was guilty of a “scandalous deception” after he allegedly denied that the minister was coming despite government warnings to stay away.

Hundreds of pro-Turkey protesters scuffled with police into the night in Rotterdam.

The diplomatic clash with Kaya, came after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was barred from landing in the Netherlands on Saturday and Turkish officials closed off the Dutch Embassy and called its ambassador no longer welcome.

The Dutch first withdrew the landing rights of the foreign minister because of objections to his intention to attend a rally in Rotterdam for a referendum on constitutional reforms to expand Erdogan’ powers, which the Dutch see as a step backward from democracy. Turkish officials have been campaigning in various European cities with Turkish populations before the April 16 referendum.