Netherlands bars Turkish minister's plane

Posted March 12, 2017

The diplomatic row between the Netherlands and Turkey escalated on Saturday after the Netherlands said a plane carrying Turkey's foreign minister to a campaign rally in Rotterdam would not be allowed to land.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan's remarks were made at a rally in Istanbul, as he now hopes to secure a "Yes" vote in a referendum over whether he be granted increased powers.

The Dutch announcement was a reply to Cavusoglu's remarks, that Turkey would impose "severe sanctions" on the Netherlands if attempts were made to cancel his planned Rotterdam rally later on Saturday.

Turkey has now summoned the Dutch charge d'affaires for an explanation. "If the Netherlands cancels my flight permit, we will introduce serious sanctions", he said, Turkish media outlets reported.

The Dutch Prime Minister said in response to the rift that although the two countries can find an acceptable solution, Turkey does not respect the country's laws regarding public gatherings.

Cavusoglu, who was barred from a similar meeting in Hamburg last week but spoke instead from the Turkish consulate, accused the Dutch of treating the many Turkish citizens in the country like "hostages", cutting them off from Ankara.

It then transpired a second Turkish official, minister for the family affairs Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya was heading to the Netherlands by vehicle from Germany.

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Çavuşoğlu was due to speak at a rally in Rotterdam on Saturday (11 March), but Germany and the Netherlands have resisted pro-Erdoğan demonstrations in their countries, claiming they are a security threat.

"You can stop our foreign minister's plane all you want, let's see how your planes will come to Turkey from now on", Erdogan said at a rally in Istanbul.

Relations between Ankara and the European Union have deteriorated significantly in the past year amid the arrest of thousands of people in purges and security crackdowns after an attempted coup in July.

Germany is home to 1.4 million people eligible to vote in Turkey's referendum on April 16.

Erdogan is looking to expats living in Europe to help him win next month's referendum.

A spokesman for the President lambasted the bans, claiming they revealed a "tragicomedy" on attitudes towards the Turkish government and interference in the referendum.