Turkey Summons Dutch Envoy Over Treatment of Minister

Turkey has summoned the Netherlands’ envoy to formally complain about the treatment of Turkish diplomats over the weekend as well as the excessive use of force against demonstrators in an ensuing protest.

The Foreign Ministry said the Dutch Embassy’s Charge D’affaires, Daan Feddo Huisinga, was handed two formal protest notes on Monday by a senior official.

The first note protested against what it called practices that violate international conventions, diplomatic courtesy and immunities.

The ministry said it also sought a written apology from Dutch authorities for the treatment of its family minister and diplomats, noting the envoy was told that Turkey reserved the right to seek compensation.

The second note complained about the “inhumane and derogatory” treatment of supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who had gathered outside Turkey’s Consulate in Rotterdam.

Dutch authorities banned two ministers from campaigning for Turkey’s April constitutional referendum.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş said the Netherlands would be forced to apologize to Turkey for preventing two ministers from holding campaign rallies.

However, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte ruled out any apology for banning Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Kaya from joining pro-Ankara rallies here, while adding that he hoped a diplomatic row could be defused.

“In the interest of our relations within the EU, with Turkey, it is now crucial to try and de-escalate events, not to add to this. Of course, if Turkey continues to talk in an inflammatory way about the Netherlands, we have to consider the next steps,” Rutte said.

In a separate statement on March 13, Rutte said Turkey was not trying to interfere in the Dutch elections by sending ministers to attend a pro-Ankara rally in Rotterdam.

“I don’t believe it was their idea to influence the elections,” Rutte said about the row, which erupted just days before the Dutch go to the polls March 15.

Rutte emphasized that the Turks in the Netherlands were not citizens of Turkey, but Dutch nationals. The Dutch prime minister said he wanted the Netherlands to turn the tide of populism in this week’s parliamentary election.
International community calls for calm

The Council of Europe has urged both Turkey and the Netherlands to engage in dialogue following the row.

“The situation is now damaging to diplomacy and democracy. We cannot allow it to escalate any further,” Thorbjørn Jagland said in a statement on March 12. “All Turkish citizens, inside and outside of the country, should have ample opportunity to be informed about the pros and cons of proposed constitutional amendments and to engage in an open, fair and inclusive discussion in the referendum campaign.”

Jagland also stated all sides should agree on constructive dialogue on campaign events, in this case, Turkey’s April 16 referendum on constitutional amendments.

“All public meetings and political campaigns held in Council of Europe member states should be conducted in accordance with national legislation and the European Convention on Human Rights,” he said.

The EU urged Turkey to avoid “excessive statements” and actions that could increase tensions, in a row with the Netherlands and Germany over the blocking of rallies by Turkish ministers.

“The European Union calls on Turkey to refrain from excessive statements and actions that risk further exacerbating the situation,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn said in a statement.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg also urged Turkey and its NATO allies to reduce tensions stoked by Ankara’s demands that it be allowed to send government officials to rally Turks living in Germany and The Netherlands.

“I will encourage all allies to show mutual respect, to be calm and have a measured approach to contribute to de-escalate the tensions,” Stoltenberg said March 13.

Russia joined the calls for calm as Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said, “We call on both the Netherlands and Turkey for calm [to lower] the tension between the two countries.”
Turkey, meanwhile, was criticized by France and Germany over its use of the term “Nazi” to describe the Netherlands actions.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on March 13 that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s mention of Nazism and fascism in the diplomatic row with the Netherlands was unacceptable.

Meanwhile, the Greek deputy minister for European affairs, Yorgos Katrougalos, lent support to Turkey. “I cannot judge the internal political decisions of other countries, but the rule in Europe is that such meetings can take place,” he said on March 13.

Dutch police moved in early on March 12 to break up protests, which erupted in Rotterdam over the incident, using water cannon, dogs and mounted horseback charges. Dutch media said 12 people were detained and that one officer was hurt.

The Netherlands is home to around 400,000 people of Turkish origin, and Ankara is keen to harness votes of the diaspora in Europe ahead of the April 16 referendum