Turkey suspends ‘high-level diplomatic relations’ with Dutch

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Turkey will not allow the Dutch ambassador to Ankara to return to Turkey and has suspended “high-level diplomatic relations” between the two countries, deputy Turkish Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus announced in Ankara on Monday as a disagreement between the two countries escalated.

Turkey’s action came after the Netherlands’ refusal to allow Turkey’s foreign minister to visit for a political rally over the weekend.

That minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, is demanding answers from the Dutch government over why they blocked him.

“Why this time am I a terrorist? Are the Turks living in this country terrorists?” Cavusoglu asked in an interview Monday with CNN’s “Connect the World.”

The decision to refuse him permission to fly to Rotterdam to address the rally over the weekend was followed by a refusal by the Dutch to let Turkish family affairs minister, Fatma Betul Sayan Kayafrom enter the Turkish consulate in the city.

She was escorted out of the country.

Violent clashes in Rotterdam followed the decision to halt the two ministers from addressing the rallies.

No explanation, Minister complains

Cavusoglu told CNN he had been given no explanation from the Dutch as to why they had public order and safety concerns over his visit — the reason they gave for blocking it.

“Is there any one single Turkish Turk radicalized? They say no. So what is the security problem then? They don’t give me any detail, I am the Foreign Minister of Turkey. I am not a terrorist this is just excuse, unfortunately, to hide the real reasons,” he said.

Cavusoglu suggested that a rise in racism, Islamophobia and xenophobia in the Netherlands and other European countries is to blame.

He also claimed the Netherlands and other European countries wish to “obstruct” the yes campaign for a referendum on the Turkish constitution to be held on April 16 that would grant new powers to Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan .

Cavusoglu was visiting Rotterdam to rally support among Turkish expatriates in the Netherlands who can vote in the referendum.

Nazi comments echoed

After the foreign minister’s visit to Rotterdam was blocked, Erdogan reacted angrily, comparing the Dutch government to Nazis.

In response, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Erdogan’s remarks were inflammatory and demanded an apology.

The Netherlands lost more than 200,000 of its citizens when it was occupied by Nazi Germany in World War II.

Appearing to defend Erdogan’s inflammatory remarks about Nazis, Cavusoglu said: “Such attitudes such policies and the violations of the European standards and the values and the Vienna conventions never happened since World War Two. It didn’t happen even during the World War Two and it didn’t happen maybe even during the Nazi (era)… so that is why we are making the comparison.”

Action against Dutch government

Cavusoglu said he has made recommendations for action against the Dutch government in protest at what happened at the weekend. He declined to say what this will entail.

On Monday, the Dutch issued travel advice via Twitter for Dutch citizens presently in Turkey telling them to “avoid demonstrations and be alert” amid the bitter row between the two countries.

But Cavusoglu told CNN: “We will not target the Dutch people and we will not harm them because it is not their mistake. And the Dutch people are friends of turkey and so many tourists are coming to Turkey and we have been friends for 400 years.”