Turkey referendum: Dutch bar on Erdogan’s ministers raises protests

Amsterdam/Ankara, March 12 (IANS) The Dutch riot police have used water cannons and horses to disperse protestors outside the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam, as the city forbade a Turkish minister from entering it.

More than 1,000 people had gathered outside the building as the diplomatic row between the two nations escalated after the Netherlands denied entry to Turkish Family and Social Policies Minister Betul Sayan Kaya to the consulate, and later escorted her to the German border on Sunday, reported BBC.

“I am being taken to Germany from the Nijmegen border with democratic and humanitarian values disregarded. I condemn this on behalf of all my citizens,” Kaya said in a tweet.

“This treatment against a woman minister can never be accepted”, she wrote.

Kaya, who had arrived by road, was intercepted by the Dutch police on Saturday night near the consulate building hours after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s flight clearance to Rotterdam was cancelled over “security” and “public safety” issues.

Both the ministers were due to meet and seek the votes of Turks living in the Netherlands ahead of April 16 referendum which will see a constitutional amendment.

Kaya, who was blocked from entering the consulate, was later taken to the German border by the police, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte confirmed early on Sunday morning.

In a Facebook post, Rutte said attempts to find a “reasonable solution” to the countries’ differences had proved “impossible”, and dismissing Kaya’s arrival in Rotterdam as “irresponsible”.

Cavusoglu said that Ankara would respond 10 times stronger to the Dutch government’s decision to prevent a Turkish minister from entering the country, reported Anadolu Agency.

“To prevent a female minister from entering ‘our territory, our consulate office’, was shameful for Europe,” said Cavusoglu.

Protests also erupted in Istanbul and Ankara in front of the Dutch diplomatic missions which had been sealed off after the Dutch move.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the actions as a measure by “Nazi remnants and fascists”.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said late Saturday that it has conveyed to the Netherlands its will for the Dutch envoy to Ankara to not return to his post for a while upon the cancellation of Cavusoglu’s flight permit.

The Turkish government planned to campaign in the Netherlands, as in other European countries, to urge Dutch citizens with the Turkish nationality to vote for a stronger position for Erdogan.

The Dutch government, citing “the public order was at stake”, objected the campaign by Turkish officials and had made several attempts to prevent them from coming.

–IANS

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