Turkish President Erdoğan Says Dutch will ‘Pay the Price’
Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan drove his dispute with European nations to the hilt Sunday, boldly claiming that “Nazism is alive in the West” after two of his ministers were prevented from campaigning in the Netherlands over the weekend.
While Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte worked to contain the diplomatic damage from his unusual actions, Erdoğan made it clear during a live address that Turkey would not be easily appeased.
He said Ankara would retaliate for the ousting of the Turkish family affairs minister from the Netherlands in an unprecedented midnight standoff outside the country’s Rotterdam consulate between a high-level government official and police in full gear.
“I said ‘I thought Nazism was over’, but I was wrong. In fact, Nazism is alive in the West,” he said from Istanbul, reviving memories of Europe’s darkest past in remarks similar to ones he made about Germany earlier this month.
To bolster support for an April 16 referendum that would expand the powers of Turkey’s president, Turkish cabinet ministers have been scheduling campaign trips to several European countries with sizeable populations of Turkish expatriates.
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 center stage in the runup to a national election on Wednesday.
In a neck and neck race, the parties of either Rutte or populist firebrand Geert Wilders could end up with the most votes.
Rutte said it was important for his government not to bow to Turkish pressure, especially, he said, after Ankara threatened sanctions if the Dutch kept its 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,” Rutte said.
Rutte’s actions, which came two days after several German municipalities cancelled rallies that Turkish Cabinet ministers had planned to address, prompted Erdoğan on Saturday to accuse the Dutch of being “Nazi remnants”.
On Sunday, he further heaped on the criticism while demanding an apology from the Dutch.
“If you sacrifice Turkish-Dutch relations to the elections on Wednesday, then you will pay the price,” Erdogan warned.
“Those who treat my foreign minister, my economy minister, our legislator friends in a shameless way, will pay the price. Those who unleash the dogs and their hatred will pay the price,” he added in reference to images showing police dogs biting protesters.
Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders said no apologies would be forthcoming.
Amid the sparring, Cavosoğlu was allowed to campaign Sunday in the northern French city of Metz.
Alain Carton, secretary general of the Metz prefecture, said the rally presented no threat to public order and in the absence of such a risk, the rally was permitted in the name of the freedom of assembly.
About 100 supporters draped in Turkish flags greeted the minister as he reached the Centre des Congres of Metz with cheers of “Turkey” and “God is Great”.