Ankara, March 15 (IANS) In remarks escalating tensions between the two countries, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused the Dutch of being responsible for the biggest massacre in Europe since World War II.
With high-level diplomatic relations between Turkey and the Netherlands already frozen, Erdogan on Tuesday blamed the Dutch for failing to prevent the killing of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica when Bosnian Serb forces overran the town in 1995, CNN reported on Wednesday.
In a reference to Dutch United Nations peacekeepers who were on the ground and failed to prevent the mass killing, Erdogan said: "We know the Dutch and the people in Holland from the massacre of Srebrenica. We know them, how they massacred people in Srebrenica full well. We don't need anyone to give us a lesson on civilization."
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte responded to the remarks, accusing Erdogan of "a disgusting falsification of history."
In an interview with Dutch broadcaster RTL, Rutte said: "[Erdogan] continues to push the limits. This is of unbelievably low quality and style. We are not going to reduce ourselves to this level. This is very unacceptable and extremely irritating."
The Turkish President's comments -- made during a speech in Ankara -- came amid an escalating row sparked by Turkish officials being blocked from addressing political rallies in the Netherlands, said the report.
Over the weekend, the Netherlands refused to allow Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to visit Rotterdam for a political rally.
Shortly after Cavusoglu was refused entry, the Dutch stopped Turkey's Family Affairs Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya from entering the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam. She was later escorted out of the country.
The growing tensions come as Dutch general election is underway. Far-right candidate Geert Wilders' anti-Islam, anti-EU Party for Freedom (PVV) is expected to make a strong showing, according to reports.
Erdogan also implored Dutch voters of immigrant backgrounds not to cast their ballots for Wilders, who he described as an "extreme racist" or Prime Minister Rutte in Wednesday's elections.