Erdogan: Dutch will pay price for barring ministers

Indo Asian News Service

Ankara/Amsterdam, March 12 (IANS) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned the Netherlands it will "pay the price" for harming ties after two of his ministers were barred from speaking in Rotterdam city, as a row over Ankara's political campaigning among Turkish immigrants escalated.

"We will teach them international diplomacy," Erdogan said in Istanbul on Sunday.

The two ministers were prevented from addressing Turkish expatriates in Rotterdam on Saturday, with one of them escorted to the German border, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

"If you sacrifice your relationship with Turkey for the elections on Wednesday, you will pay the price," Erdogan said.

"We have yet not done what is required," he said.

The Dutch government said such events would stoke tensions days before the Netherlands' general election on March 15.

Erdogan branded the Netherlands "Nazi remnants" and fascists in response to the landing ban.

The Dutch government on Saturday first barred Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from flying to Rotterdam and later stopped Family and Social Policies Minister Betul Sayan Kaya from entering the Turkish consulate in the port city, before escorting her out of the country to Germany.

"I am being taken to Germany from the Nijmegen border with democratic and humanitarian values disregarded. I condemn this on behalf of all my citizens," Kaya said in a tweet.

"This treatment against a woman minister can never be accepted", she wrote.

Both the ministers were due to meet and seek the votes of Turks living in the Netherlands ahead of April 16 referendum which will see a constitutional amendment.

Protests were held on Sunday outside the Dutch consulate in Istanbul, where the Netherlands' flag was replaced with a Turkish one, which was later removed, BBC reported.

Water cannon and riot police on horseback were deployed to disperse about 1,000 people protesting outside the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam overnight.

The Dutch riot police used water cannons and horses to disperse protesters outside the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam. At least 12 people were detained.

In a statement issued on Sunday, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Turkey would retaliate in the "harshest ways" and "respond in kind to this unacceptable behaviour".

Protests also erupted in Istanbul and Ankara in front of the Dutch diplomatic missions which had been sealed off after the Dutch move.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Sunday that attempts to find a "reasonable solution" to the countries' differences had proved "impossible". He dismissed Kaya's arrival in Rotterdam as "irresponsible".

Rutte called the Turkish government's stance "bizarre" and "unacceptable". He said Turkey had crossed a diplomatic line.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said that it has conveyed to the Netherlands its will for the Dutch envoy to Ankara to not return to his post for a while.

The Turkish government planned to campaign in the Netherlands, as in other European countries, to urge Dutch citizens with the Turkish nationality to vote for a stronger position for Erdogan.

The Dutch government, citing "the public order was at stake", objected the campaign by Turkish officials and had made several attempts to prevent them from coming.

Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said that the stand-off between the two countries is "very regrettable" and should be sorted out "as fast as possible", reported Anadolu Agency.