Turkish foreign minister calls Netherlands “capital of fascism”


Turkish foreign minister
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. Photo/Courtesy

Turkey’s foreign minister described the Netherlands as “the capital of fascism” on Sunday (March 12) after he was barred from speaking in Rotterdam, as a row over Ankara’s political campaigning among Turkish immigrants in Europe escalated.

Mevlut Cavusoglu addressed expat Turks in the French city of Metz, a day after Dutch authorities said they would not allow him to fly to their country to rally support among Turkish emigres there.

Turkey’s government is looking to the large number of Turks living in Europe, especially in Germany and the Netherlands, to help secure victory next month in a referendum that would give President Tayyip Erdogan sweeping new powers.

But the Netherlands and some other European countries have said they are worried that any campaigning could spread Turkey’s domestic tensions into their territory.

In Metz, Cavusoglu dismissed what he said were accusations from critics that Erdogan wanted to use the powers to seize control of the judiciary – and compared Turkey’s judicial system favourably with the one in the Netherlands.

A day earlier in Istanbul, Cavusoglu told journalists it was “disgraceful” that Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte had said he could visit Rotterdam to see the tulips but not its Turkish residents.

“First of all, those tulips were sent to Netherlands during the time of Ottoman empire. It seems those tulips couldn’t make the racist politicians in Netherlands into men. If the tulips help, we can send them new tulips so they can grow into men,” he said.

The Dutch government – facing a strong challenge from the anti-Islam party of Geert Wilders in elections on Wednesday (March 15) – barred Cavusoglu and later stopping Turkey’s Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya from entering the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam, saying the the ministers’ visits were undesirable.

Dutch police used dogs and water cannon on Sunday to disperse hundreds of protesters waving Turkish flags outside the consulate in Rotterdam.

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