Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says denying his plane permission to land in the Netherlands “will not go unanswered.” His address to the Turkish diaspora over Turkey’s upcoming referendum was blocked.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters at Istanbul airport on Saturday evening that the decision by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to refuse his plane landing rights was “a scandal in every way and cannot be accepted.”
The Turkish foreign minister had flown to Rotterdam to drum up support for next month’s constitutional referendum in Turkey, that will dramatically expand President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s powers.
Cavusoglu boarded the flight despite the Dutch government on Friday refusing him permission to address a rally of the Turkish community in the Netherlands, which is estimated to be 500,000 strong.
Dutch officials said on Saturday they withdrew his plane’s permission to land because of “risks to public order and security.”
Rutte added later that it was not right “for Turkish ministers to campaign in the Netherlands among Dutch people.”
Upon his return to Turkey, Cavusoglu accused the Dutch of trying to prevent Turkish officials from meeting voters, before adding: “We will give them the response they deserve.”
Earlier in the day, Erdogan responded to the flight ban at a rally in Istanbul, describing the Dutch policies as being reminiscent of the Nazi-era.
Turkish foreign minister threatens the Netherlands over rally ban
Turkey hits out as Netherlands blocks foreign minster’s flight
“They are the vestiges of the Nazis, they are fascists,” Erdogan said. “Ban our foreign minister from flying however much you like, but from now on let’s see how your flights will land in Turkey,” he said, adding that any action would impact diplomats and not tourists.
Protest in Istanbul
Close to 100 people marched in Istanbul later on Saturday to protest the decision, laying a black wreath in front of the Dutch Consulate amid a heavy police presence.
The latest spat comes four days before elections in the Netherlands, where right-wing, anti-immigration politician Geert Wilders is running neck and neck with Rutte’s party.
The Dutch ban follows a similar order by two German cities, who said the appearance by Turkish ministers in support of the April 16 referendum posed a security risk.
The German decision was backed up by the country’s constitutional court on Friday, but the Berlin government insisted it had no plans for a top-down ban on Turkish ministers appearing.
mm,cw/jlw (AFP, AP, Reuters)