Tabnak - The relationship between Ankara and European capitals has always been uneasy, but maybe not as it is today. In the latest move representing how the gap is widening between Turkey and Europe, the Dutch government denied entry of Turkey’s Foreign Minister to the Netherlands. The move could renew the debates on the future of Ankara-Brussels relations.
According to a report published by "Reuters”, the Netherlands on Saturday banned Turkey's Foreign Minister from flying to Rotterdam as a highly emotional dispute over Ankara's campaigning among emigre Turks in support of new powers for President Tayyip Erdogan spread through Europe.
The announcement came hours after Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that the Netherlands was treating Turkish citizens like hostages in hindering their contact with Ankara.
The Dutch government declared in a statement it had withdrawn the permission because of "risks to public order and security” caused by the proposed visit of Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to Rotterdam.
Reacting to the move, the Turkish President promised retaliation against Dutch diplomatic flights. He also described the Dutch as "Nazi remnants and fascists.” "Ban our foreign minister from flying however much you like, but from now on, let's see how your flights will land in Turkey," President Erdogan said at a rally in Istanbul.
BBC reports that Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb said earlier this week that the owner of the hall scheduled to hold Mr. Cavusoglu's event in the city on Saturday had withdrawn authorization, but the foreign minister could still visit.
"He has diplomatic immunity and everything so we will treat him with respect, but we have other instruments to prohibit things happening in public spaces," Mr. Aboutaleb was quoted as saying.
In a separate report of the event "Washington Post” writes that The diplomatic row between the two countries comes just days before the Netherlands goes to the polls in a March 15 election for the lower house of Parliament. The campaign has been dominated by issues of identity, with anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders set to make strong gains.
Ahead of Saturday’s decision, Wilders had accused the government of a weak response to Turkish plans to send ministers to the Netherlands to campaign.
This is while Mr. Wilders’ calls for a referendum on EU membership had been the primary cause of concern over the past year for investors.
"The focus will be on how the populist-right wing People’s Freedom Party (PVV) of Geert Wilders will fare for pointers to the strength of populist movements elsewhere in Europe ahead of upcoming polls in France, Germany and (possibly) Italy,” "Financial Times” writes quoting strategists at RBC Capital Markets.
Thus, it could be said that the latest move by the Dutch government is no only limited to the Netherlands and have strong connections with what is currently going on throughout Europe. European countries’ criticisms of the way the Turkish government monopolizing the political power on the one hand and the concern that adopting a soft approach against the issue could bolster the nationalist and populist movements on the other, have led the Dutch government to make such a decision.
It should be noted that relations between Turkey and European countries have deteriorated since last July's attempted coup in Turkey. Germany for example has been critical of the mass arrests and purges that followed - with nearly 100,000 civil servants removed from their posts.