14 Mar 2017

Erdogan calls Netherlands a “banana republic”

The diplomatic crisis between Turkey and The Netherlands has turned into an open conflict, since Turkish President Erdogan called the European country “a banana republic”. During the weekend, the Dutch government barred the Turkish Foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu from flying to Rotterdam in order to speak in front of the Turkish immigrants of the city. Cavusoglu and other Turkish ministers have plans of visiting the European cities that host major Turkish communities and to talk in favour of the planned constitutional reform, that will extend Tayyip Erdogan’s powers.

Holding political rallies for another country’s domestic policies is illegal in the, famous for its tulips, country. This didn’t stop the Turkish officials from expressing their harsh opinions about the decisions of Marc Rutte’s government. Cavusoglu addressed a gathering of Turkish immigrants in Metz, France and accused The Netherlands for fake democracy. “The Netherlands, the so-called capital of democracy and I put this in quotation marks because they are actually the capital of fascism” remarked the Turkish Foreign minister, forgetting that his government has thrown to prison 16.000 citizens and suspended 48.000 officials and workers, on accounts of participating in the 16th July attempted coup.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan attacked The Netherlands, during an event in Kocaeli in Turkey, saying that it is acting like a “banana republic”. The Turkish President called on international organisations to speak out against the Dutch and impose sanctions on them. On Saturday, Erdogan had called the Dutch “Nazi remnants”, and the prime minister, Binali Yildirim, had threatened with harsh retaliations.

Cavusoglu was not the only member of Erdogan’s government to be denied entry in The Netherlands. Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya travelled from Germany by car to the port of Rotterdam so she could address a rally in favour of Erdogan. Kaya was detained by the Dutch police at the Turkish consulate before being declared “an undesirable alien” and escorted back to Germany. Kaya, on her Twitter account, accused the Dutch government of tyranny, oppression and of violating her human rights.

Mark Rutte, the Dutch Prime Minister, issued a statement saying that “In mutual contact with Turkey, Netherlands has repeatedly made it clear that public order and security in our country should not be compromised. We told our Turkish counterparts that Kaya is not welcome in our country”. Rutte told the reporters that “we are facing an unprecedented situation, in which a NATO ally and historic friend of ours, is acting in a totally unacceptable and irresponsible manner.”

After Kaya’s expulsion, pro-Erdogan protesters clashed with police forces in Rotterdam. The 400,000 people Turkish minority in the country has been split in two camps, the one that supports the Turkish President and the one that opposes him. Erdogan sends his ministers to the European countries, where there is strong minority, so they can talk in favour of the constitutional reform that will be voted in a referendum on 16th April. The reform will give the President of Turkey absolute powers and total control of the state affairs.

Rutte is facing the Dutch parliamentary elections on the 15th March, which are expected to be a close call between his VDD political party and the, far-right, Geert Wilders’ PVV party. Wilders wrote on his Twitter account that Kaya should go away and never come back. Wilders has made clear that he is against the presence of large minorities, like the Turkish and the Moroccan ones.

The future will show whether the relationship between Turkey and The Netherlands is actually tensed or it is used for attracting voters. Denmark has asked the prime minister Binali Yildirim to postpone his visit to Copenhagen on 20th March due to “tensions”. Boris Johnson, on the other side, said to reporters that Cavusoglu is welcome to visit London anytime. It seems that each European country has a different way of coping with such problems.