Turkey mulling over sanctions on the Netherlands

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday (March 14) a diplomatic row with the Netherlands could not be dismissed with an apology and warned of further possible measures, after Ankara suspended high-level diplomatic ties with the Dutch.VIDEO: REUTERS
A man with Turkish flags passing a Turkish riot policeman in front of the Dutch consulate in Istanbul yesterday. Tensions between Turkey and the Netherlands escalated after a ban was enforced on Turkish ministers at political events in Rotterdam. Ank
A man with Turkish flags passing a Turkish riot policeman in front of the Dutch consulate in Istanbul yesterday. Tensions between Turkey and the Netherlands escalated after a ban was enforced on Turkish ministers at political events in Rotterdam. Ankara is seeking an official written apology for the treatment of its family minister and diplomats.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

ANKARA • The Turkish Cabinet was yesterday expected to consider imposing sanctions on the Netherlands in a deepening row with its Nato ally over a ban on its ministers speaking at political events in Rotterdam. One minister said punitive measures were likely.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is seeking support from Turks in a referendum on boosting his powers, has accused the Dutch government of acting like "Nazi remnants". He said it should face sanctions for barring his ministers from addressing expatriate Turks to drum up votes.

The row marks another low point in relations between Turkey and Europe, further dimming Ankara's prospects of joining the bloc.

A source close to the government told Reuters that sanctions were expected to be discussed when the Cabinet of ministers met at 7pm local time.

Ankara's minister for EU Affairs, Mr Omer Celik, said sanctions were likely. "We will surely have sanctions against the latest actions by the Netherlands. We will answer them with these," he added.

Apart from any economic measures, a source in Ankara said sanctions could also affect cultural activities as well as military and technological cooperation.

Ankara is seeking an official written apology for the treatment of its family minister and diplomats in Rotterdam, the Turkish foreign ministry sources said. The Dutch government barred Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from flying to Rotterdam last Saturday and later stopped Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya from entering the Turkish consulate there, before escorting her back to Germany.

Turkey has also criticised the "disproportionate" treatment by security forces against "people using their right to peacefully gather together", referring to a protest outside the Rotterdam consulate last Saturday.

After hours of calm protests, Dutch police officers moved in against more than 1,000 people gathered near the Turkish consulate, charging on horseback and using dogs to disperse the crowd.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said it is Mr Erdogan who should apologise for comparing the Netherlands to fascists and Nazis, adding that Turkey was acting "in a totally unacceptable, irresponsible manner".

The EU urged Turkey yesterday to avoid "excessive statements" and actions that could increase tensions.

"The European Union calls on Turkey to refrain from excessive statements and actions that risk further exacerbating the situation," EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn said in a statement.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said the Turkish president's mention of Nazism and fascism during the diplomatic row with the Netherlands was unacceptable. Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has also called on Turkey and the Netherlands to defuse the row.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 14, 2017, with the headline 'Turkey mulling over sanctions on the Netherlands'. Print Edition | Subscribe