Turkish Minister of Family and Social Affairs, Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya has been declared persona-non grata in the Netherlands following a row of diplomatic tension between the two countries when Turkish government insisted on campaigning abroad on the week of Dutch elections; although Turkish legislation prohibits campaigning abroad. Turkish government has protested against the Netherlands and threatened to act harshly. President Erdoğan called the Dutch government ‘leftovers of Nazis, fascists’ and this escalated the tension further.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım declared the Dutch deportation of Turkish minister as “an act serving the ‘nay’ vote in referendum”. However AKP officials, Turkish ministers as well as presidential spokesperson have stated that this tension would crystallize the Turkish nation’s approach to referendum, convincing them to vote yes on April 16.
Social media campaigns have been started targeting the Netherlands; among the trending topics there are many titles declaring the Netherlands as a fascist country with Nazi ideology. Various Turkish officials and pro-government journalists have announced their opinion regarding the Dutch restrictions and stated that it is all tied to ‘rising islamophobia and turkophobia in Europe’.
Only days before the Dutch elections, far right leader Geert Wilders has announced that the ‘Turkish residents in the Netherlands that think like Erdoğan should go back to Turkey and never come back.’ According to the latest general elections, 69.7% of the Dutch Turks have voted for AKP.
‘I know you will do what is necessary’
President Erdoğan has included the Netherlands in his talk at the International Goodness Awards ceremony and said “you will pay for this, we have not yet even started doing what should be done” and called on to the Turkish nationals living in Europe “I know you will do what is necessary” while likening the Turkish minister to a heroine from Turkey’s Independence War in 1920s.
Turkish Minister of EU Affairs Çelik has stated that ‘Europe has gone bankrupt in terms of democracy and captured by a dark racist ideology’. While vice-Prime Minister Canikli stated that ‘What holds Europe together is only respect to Human Rights and rule of law. Although Europe has always supported far right and the process has begun that Europe would shatter in pieces’.
AKP’s ally in the upcoming Executive Presidential System Referendum, Nationalist Movement Party MHP’s leader Devlet Bahçeli has also named his reaction to the situation and called for European branches of his party to mobilize and start acting.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu also reacted to the situation and called for immediate cutting of all relations with the Netherlands and added that the CHP is ready to support in all ways possible. Currently the Netherlands is the origin of biggest portion of foreign investments in Turkey.
Turkish government has deemed the Dutch action as undemocratic and disrespective of Human Rights. Although as criticism Turkish citizens have been reminding the restrictive applications taking place in Turkey especially in the South-East where Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has absolute majority. In 2016, the HDP deputies and party officials were not allowed to visit cities within Turkey, as the city of Cizre had been cordoned off by military.
Regarding Minister Kaya’s statements about ‘the Netherlands declaring State of Emergency and Dutch police attacking Turkish citizens with horses and dogs’, the memory of Turkish police attacking university students with dogs on Ankara University have come up from a few weeks ago, during a protest against decree rulings of the State of Emergency Rule in Turkey.
Turkish residents have gathered in Dutch city of Rotterdam while in Turkish cities there have been arranged protest rallies. In Istanbul some citizens have entered the Dutch Palace and replaced the flag with a Turkish one while shouting Allahu Akbar, at the Consulate General of the Netherlands. Governing AKP’s youth branch in İzmit also gathered, stabbing and squeezing oranges in protest of the Netherlands.
Rector of Istanbul’s Maltepe University has tweeted that the university is cancelling all Erasmus exchange agreements with Dutch institutions.
Amidst the crisis, Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced that they do not expect to see the Dutch ambassador soon, who is currently outside of Turkey. The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs also responded that the Turkish government is responsible for the safety and security of diplomatic personnel within Turkey. In 2016, the Russian ambassador to Ankara had been shot dead by a bodyguard during an art gallery opening.