“The Netherlands is Europe, and today I want to say that Europe is The Netherlands”.
But the times have been changing, and it is reasonable to assume that the Dutch authorities’ extraordinary measures to prevent Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s representatives from addressing rallies to garner support for a “yes” vote in Turkey’s constitutional referendum on April 16 were intended, in part, to avert the spectacle of large immigrant gatherings on the eve of the local election. One minister was escorted out to the country, while the other was denied permission to land.
Emotions are running especially high after German authorities banned several planned rallies by Turkish ministers, citing public security concerns. Erdogan has branded such bans “fascist”, infuriating the German government.
Turkey agreed in 2013 to take back migrants who travelled illegally to the European Union in return for the promise of visa-free travel.
There are large Turkish migrant communities in several European countries, (approximately 4.5 million in western European countries); numerous migrants are eligible to vote in Turkey and their support could be crucial to the Turkish referendum.
“The Netherlands and the Dutch, we know them from the Srebrenica massacre. There can be no such thing”, he added.
Earlier on Saturday, the Dutch government withdrew the landing rights for the plane of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who had the same intention as Kaya.
But “the fact that the federal government so far hasn’t exhausted its possibilities under global law is not a free pass for the future”, Altmaier was quoted as saying. “When it is used at a level of rhetoric, and much more at a practical level, as a negotiating weapon, then we are no longer talking about the refugee issue”.
“On behalf of my country and all women, I strongly condemn this biased, racist and xenophobic treatment”, she said, adding that the world should not “remain silent” to the Dutch government’s actions.
A day after Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte was reelected, Mr Erdogan said he had lost the friendship of Ankara over the row.
Ahmet Daskin, project manager with the Foundation for Dialogue and Education, said his members had recently seen a big increase in hate messages on social media. “They have started a (Christian-Muslim) war”. There can be no other explanation.
The spat has already stoked nationalist sentiment among some Turks in Europe, prompting angry protests in Germany and the Netherlands.
In the Netherlands, meanwhile, pressure from the far-right, anti-immigration movement of Mr Wilders has pushed the Dutch government into acting as a foil for Mr Erdogan.
However, Mr Erdogan’s supporters have found themselves blocked from holding these rallies.
– European Commission chief spokesman Margaritis Schinas said Thursday the European body would stick to the 2016 refugee deal struck between the European Union and Turkey.
Erdogan has repeatedly accused the two countries of behaving like “Nazis”, comments that have left The Hague and Berlin aghast.
On Tuesday morning, the Turkish foreign ministry issued a fresh statement after Federica Mogherini, the European Union foreign affairs chief, and Johannes Hahn, the commissioner for enlargement, called on Turkey to “refrain from excessive statements”.
Altmaier said that, over the past 10 years, Turkish politicians’ campaign appearances in Germany have been in line with German laws.