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Turkey-Netherlands row shows no sign of ebbing

Turkey-Netherlands row shows no sign of ebbing

The Dutch government barred Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from flying to Rotterdam last Saturday and later stopped Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya from entering the Turkish consulate there, before escorting her back to Germany.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at the decision, saying the ban was reminiscent of Nazism and pledged to retaliate. "I understand they are angry, but this is of course way out of line".

Dutch officials, however, have prevented his ministers from attending and leading rallies in their country, partly because the Netherlands is in the middle of a general election campaign, with the vote coming this Wednesday.

On Monday, the Dutch foreign ministry issued a new travel warning, urging its citizens in Turkey to take care and noting the new "diplomatic tensions".

The Dutch say the minister put public order at risk by choosing to "sneak" into the country after talks on possible campaigning overseas by Turkish officials were abandoned.

"Turkey is a proud nation; the Netherlands is a proud nation".

"I think it is completely unacceptable that Turkey is transforming European countries into a battlefield for its internal election campaigns", the minister said.

After hours of calm protests, Dutch police officers moved in against more than 1,000 people gathered near the Turkish consulate, charging on horseback and using dogs to disperse the crowd.

According to the Turkish foreign ministry, Cavusogly was still in Istanbul when the Dutch authorities announced they would refuse his plane permission to land.

Cavusoglu said that the German and Dutch bans on campaigns for a "yes" vote in the April 16 referendum on constitutional changes means that Europe is "taking a side for a "no" vote".

The Netherlands, however, canceled the flight clearance for Çavuşoğlu's aircraft on Saturday shortly after he warned that Turkey would impose "harsh sanctions" on Holland if it were to take such a step.

He added, "If tension will increase (between the two countries) because of my visit, then let it increase".

Equally, with a political vulture such as Mr Wilders making racist, spurious and nauseating claims about the "Islamisation" of Europe, the last thing the government of the Netherlands needs is to be seen at home as an electoral constituency of Turkey.

The Dutch government has said such rallies are "undesirable". Turkish government-controlled papers suggested Germany was targeting the president's party while allowing Turkish opposition politicians to hold political meetings.

Foreign Minister Cavusoglu is still looking for a new venue for an event on March 12 after one hotel near Zurich pulled out on security grounds and an alternative, in the city of Winterthur, was rejected as inappropriate. Wilders has built his campaign on "de-Islamizing" the Netherlands.

Turkish attempts to hold rallies in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands have been blocked.

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