ISTANBUL (AFP, REUTERS) - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday (March 16) told Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte he had lost Turkey as a friend, despite beating the far-right in parliamentary elections.
"Hey Rutte! You may have emerged as the number one party in the election but you must know that you have lost Turkey as your friend," Erdogan said in a televised speech, amid a diplomatic crisis with The Hague due to the blocking of rallies by Turkish ministers.
Earlier on Thursday Turkey's foreign minister said Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders' views were shared by all rival parties and were pushing Europe towards"wars of religion", irrespective of his failure to win Dutch elections.
Centre-right Prime Minister Mark Rutte fended off the challenge of Wilders to score an election victory hailed across Europe by governments facing a rising wave of nationalism.
However, the reaction in Ankara - which has been locked in a deepening row with the Netherlands after the Dutch barred Turkish ministers from speaking to rallies of overseas Turks - was less sanguine.
"Many parties have received a similar share of votes. Seventeen per cent, 20 per cent, there are lots of parties like this, but they are all the same," Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a rally in the southern city of Antalya.
"There is no difference between the mindsets of Geert Wilders and social democrats in the Netherlands. They all have the same mindset...That mindset is taking Europe to the cliff. Soon wars of religion may and will start in Europe."
Turkey on Monday suspended high-level relations with the Netherlands after it cited public safety in banning ministers from addressing expatriate Turks in a campaign for a referendum that would give President Tayyip Erdogan sweeping new powers.
Erdogan, who is counting on the backing of overseas Turks in the April 16 vote, accused the Dutch government of acting like"Nazi remnants".