Turkey suspends high-level diplomatic relations with Netherlands

Indo Asian News Service

Ankara, March 14 (IANS) Turkey will not allow the Dutch ambassador to Ankara to return to Turkey and has suspended high-level diplomatic relations between the two countries, a top government official has said.

Deputy Turkish Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus announced the freeze in Ankara Monday amid an escalating row over Turkish officials' access to the Netherlands, CNN reported on Tuesday.

Over the weekend, the Netherlands refused to allow Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to visit Rotterdam for a political rally.

Soon 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.

Violent clashes erupted after the two ministers were prevented from addressing rallies in Rotterdam, where they hoped to drum up support for an April 16 referendum to give greater power to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan warned the Netherlands it will "pay the price" for harming ties by barring his ministers and compared the Dutch government to Nazis. In response, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Erdogan's remarks were inflammatory and demanded an apology.

The Dutch government cited "risks to public order and security" as reasons for blocking the Turkish rallies and said such events would stoke tensions days before the Netherlands' general election on March 15.

Meanwhile, according to a report in Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey will file a complaint against the Netherlands with the United Nations, the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and to the Council of Europe (CoE) on the grounds that the Dutch government violated the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry also rejected a call by top EU officials to show restraint in the row.

It described as "worthless" an appeal by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn.

Relations between the EU and Turkey, a predominantly Muslim country regarded as crucial to tackling Europe's migrant crisis, have long been strained, reported BBC.

Turkey's Foreign Ministry said it was "grave" of the EU to stand by the Netherlands. On Monday, Mogherini and Hahn had called on Turkey to "refrain from excessive statements and actions that risk further exacerbating the situation".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel had also rallied to the Netherlands, condemning the Nazi analogies made by Erdogan as "completely misguided".

The Dutch issued travel advice via Twitter for its citizens in Turkey telling them to "avoid demonstrations and be alert".

However, responding to the diplomatic sanctions announced by Turkey, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said they were "not too bad".

--IANS

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