Turkey has threatened to ‘re-evalute’ a landmark deal with the European Union, in a move that could see Europe flooded with migrants.
A Turkish government minister said today that the country ‘should re-evaluate’ a landmark deal with the EU to curb the flow of migrants in response to an escalating crisis with the Netherlands, which barred Turkish ministers from holding rallies.
‘Turkey should re-evaluate the issue of land crossings’ under the March 18, 2016 migrant deal with the EU, Turkey’s EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik was quoted as saying by the state-run news agency Anadolu.
Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan previously labelled Holland a fascist nation and said the country will pay for blocking election rallies in Rotterdam and the ensuing riots.
Erdogan repeated hugely controversial accusations that the Netherlands – occupied by Germany in the Second World War – was behaving like a fascist Nazi state and in its treatment of his officials.
The comments have provoked anger from Dutch politicians, and leader of the Freedom Party Geert Wilders demanded 400,000 Turkish nationals be stripped of their citizenship in Holland.
As the race row heightened ahead of Turkey’s referendum, Wilders hit out at the the country’s nationals living in Holland, according to The Times.
Analysts are predicting a tight outcome to the April 16 referendum on a new constitution and Turkish ministers have planned major rallies in key EU cities to win votes from millions of Turks residing abroad.
But Turkey’s Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya was expelled after being prevented from addressing a rally in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam.
Also this weekend, The Hague refused to allow Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s plane to land ahead of a planned rally.
Violent clashes between protesters and Dutch riot police officers turned ugly quickly as 1,000 people turned up to voice their disapproval of the ministers’ access to the country being blocked.
Some men were seen throwing stones, others were seen kicking police officers who had fallen to the ground and metal railings were also hurled in the riots.
In reaction, police used powerful water cannons in an attempt to control the crowds.
‘Hey Holland! If you are sacrificing Turkish-Dutch relations for the sake of the elections on Wednesday, you will pay a price,’ an angry Erdogan told a ceremony in Istanbul, referring to the March 15 election in Turkey’s NATO ally.
‘They will learn what diplomacy is,’ he said, adding that what happened ‘cannot remain unanswered’.
‘If you let horses, dogs on my citizens you have to be held to account,’ he said, referring to dogs, horses and water cannons used by Dutch police to disperse pro-Erdogan demonstrators after clashes in Rotterdam early Sunday.
But Dutch Prime Prime Minister Mark Rutte ruled out apologising, and said: ‘There’s absolutely no way excuses can be made, they should make excuses for what they’ve done yesterday.’
Erdogan repeated his accusations that the Dutch response to the Turkish visits was ‘Nazism, fascism’.
Speaking at a rally in the French city of Metz – which was allowed to go ahead – Cavusoglu described the Netherlands as the ‘capital of fascism’.
The Netherlands is home to some 400,000 people of Turkish origin while Germany has 1.4 million people eligible to vote in Turkey – the fourth-largest electoral base after the cities of Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir.
Faced with an upsurge in support for the far-right, European governments have come under pressure to take a hard line on Erdogan, who is accused by critics of seeking one-man rule in the constitutional changes.
Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke on Sunday called on his Turkish counterpart Binali Yildirim to delay a planned March visit because of the ‘tensions’.
Police clashed with pro-Erdogan demonstrators in the Netherlands overnight while in Istanbul on Sunday a man climbed onto the roof of the Dutch consulate and replaced the Dutch flag with a Turkish flag.
A Dutch foreign ministry spokeswoman said the Netherlands had ‘protested to the Turkish authorities’ over the incident.
The latest row came after NATO allies Turkey and Germany sparred over the cancellation of a series of referendum campaign events there.
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said Sunday he was against Turkish ministers holding political rallies in Germany.
‘A Turkish campaign has no business being here in Germany,’ he told public broadcaster ARD.
Separately, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said he hoped Turkey ‘would return to its senses’.
Berlin has also emerged as a strident critic over Ankara’s crackdown following an attempted coup, which has seen more than 100,000 people arrested or dismissed from their posts over alleged links to the plotters or to Kurdish militants.
‘The West has clearly shown its true face in the last couple of days,’ Erdogan said.
‘What we have seen is a clear manifestation of Islamophobia,’ he added.
The president indicated that he himself plans to travel to Europe for rallies, a move that could potentially create an even greater row.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s remarks were made at a rally in Istanbul, as he currently hopes to secure a ‘Yes’ vote in a referendum over whether he be granted greater powers.
He is targeting expat voters in European countries with high Turkish populations, such as the Netherlands and Germany.
Mr Erdogan told the crowd back in Turkey earlier in the day: ‘You can stop our foreign minister’s plane all you want, let’s see how your planes will come to Turkey from now on,’ Mr Erdogan told booing crowds.
‘They do not know politics or international diplomacy…these Nazi remnants, they are fascists.’
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte said that while the Netherlands and Turkey could search for ‘an acceptable solution’, Turkey was not respecting the rules relating to public gatherings.
A spokesman for the Dutch government added: ‘Many Dutch people with a Turkish background are authorised to vote in the referendum over the Turkish constitution,’ it said.
‘The Dutch government does not have any opposition to gatherings in our country to inform them about it.