Over the past week, a diplomatic feud between Turkey and the Netherlands has grown from a simple misunderstanding into a need for a referendum.
The dispute began with the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who has been working on gaining support for a referendum, and issues over his arrival. According to CNN, Cavusoglu attempted to land in the Netherlands after trying to visit several other European nations, such as Switzerland and Austria. The Dutch authorities prevented the minister from entering their country citing security concerns.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is also preparing a referendum that would expand his power after the attempted coup from July of last year. Erdogan is keen to gain the support of almost 5 million Turkish expatriates living in Western Europe for his referendum that will greatly expand his power by consolidating the government into the executive branch.
Both the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, Erdogan and have spoken out against each other, demanding reprisals for actions of each nation.
Erdogan said, “If you can sacrifice Turkish-Dutch relations for an election on Wednesday, you will pay the price,” the Guardian reported. Erdogan has called upon other countries to impose sanctions, but has not mention any consequences from his country. Erdogan has also accused the Dutch of using Nazi tactics in response to the decision to prevent his minister from entering the country.
The Netherlands, occupied by Nazi Germany occupied the Netherlands up until the end of World War II, strongly opposes the allegations. The Germans devastated the region, destroying the city of Rotterdam, which is the location of the Turkish consulate.
In addition, from DW, the Dutch Embassy’s charge d’affaires, Daan Feddo Huisinga, was called to the foreign ministry where Turkish officials gave him two formal protest notes – the first about the treatment of its family minister and the second about the treatment of protesters.
In the Netherlands, Rutte has said, “This has never happened before, a country saying someone is not welcome and then them coming regardless.” The prime minister also said it is Erdogan who should apologize, for comparing the Netherlands to fascists and Nazis, adding that Turkey was acting “in a totally unacceptable, irresponsible manner”.
The Dutch have feared the rallies, planned in support of the referendum, will be a threat to the public order. According to Reuters, Dutch police used dogs and water cannons to disperse hundreds of protesters waving Turkish flags outside the consulate in Rotterdam.
The Dutch election has also been affected by the rise of tension between the Turkish and the Netherlands.
From BBC, voters in the Netherlands who were at the polls on Wednesday for a general election, concerns were dominated by immigration and Islamic radicalism. The anti-Islamic Freedom Party of Geert Wilders has been seen as benefiting from the anti-establishment sentiment.
However, Prime Minister Rutte’s handling of the Turkish rallies may benefit his center-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, which governs in coalition with the Labor Party.
The Turkish referendum, up for a vote in April, would transform the country’s parliamentary system into a presidential one, effectively consolidating the power of three legislative bodies into one executive branch under Erdogan. Critics call the move anti-democratic and say it is indicative of Erdogan’s drift toward authoritarian rule since the coup attempt in July.
Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party ministers have said those who oppose it stand with the coup plotters and terrorists.