Turkey vs. the EU round-up: threats, diplomatic notes, and de-escalation calls

A row between Turkey and Netherlands that escalated over the latter’s refusal to permit Turkish politicians to hold rallies in the country has grown after Turkey issued two diplomatic notes to the Dutch envoy in Ankara amid calls from third parties for calm.

Turkey summoned the Dutch chargé d’affaires to the Turkish Foreign Ministry for the third time since Saturday to demand an official apology after Turkish Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya was prevented from meeting with Turks living in the Netherlands, as well as a comprehensive probe against officers who used “disproportionate” force against Turkish demonstrators.

Foreign Ministry sources said the Dutch Embassy’s chargé d’affaires, Daan Feddo Huisinga, was summoned to the ministry early on Monday and was given two diplomatic notes regarding the ongoing tension between the two countries.

The first note demanded an official apology from the Dutch government on the treatment shown to Kaya and Turkish diplomats who accompanied her to Rotterdam on Saturday. The note stressed the Dutch government’s actions were in violation of a convention from 1961 on diplomatic missions.

The second note claimed that security officials used disproportionate force on protestors and members of the press, while demanding an investigation into the incidents on late Saturday in Rotterdam. It also underlined that Turkey’s right to seek compensation was reserved.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said the Netherlands would be forced to apologise to Turkey for preventing two ministers from holding campaign rallies.

However, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte ruled out any apology for banning Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Kaya from joining pro-Ankara rallies here, while adding that he hoped a diplomatic row could be defused.

“In the interest of our relations within the EU, with Turkey, it is now crucial to try and de-escalate events, not to add to this. Of course, if Turkey continues to talk in an inflammatory way about the Netherlands, we have to consider the next steps,” Rutte said.

The Council of Europe has urged both Turkey and the Netherlands to engage in dialogue following the row.

“The situation is now damaging to diplomacy and democracy. We cannot allow it to escalate any further,” Thorbjorn Jagland said in a statement on Sunday. “All Turkish citizens, inside and outside of the country, should have ample opportunity to be informed about the pros and cons of proposed constitutional amendments and to engage in an open, fair and inclusive discussion in the referendum campaign.”

Jagland also stated all sides should agree on constructive dialogue on campaign events, in this case, for Turkey’s 16 April referendum on constitutional amendments.

“All public meetings and political campaigns held in Council of Europe member states should be conducted in accordance with national legislation and the European Convention on Human Rights,” he said.

Russia joined calls for calm as Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said, “We call on both the Netherlands and Turkey for calm [to lower] the tension between the two countries.”

Turkey, meanwhile, was criticised by France and Germany over its use of the term “Nazi” to describe the Netherlands’ actions.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Monday that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s mention of Nazism and fascism in the diplomatic row with the Netherlands was unacceptable.

Meanwhile, the Greek deputy minister for European affairs, Yorgos Katrougalos, lent support to Turkey. “I cannot judge the internal political decisions of other countries, but the rule in Europe is that such meetings can take place,” he said on Monday.