Expelled Turkish minister decries ‘harsh treatment’ as Dutch PM vows ‘de-escalation’
Quoted by Anadolu news agency, Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya told reporters at Istanbul Ataturk airport that Dutch police had detained the entire Turkish delegation, including the chargé d’affaires and the minister’s advisor, as well as five people from her security detail.
“We were taken to the police headquarters and stayed there for 1.5 hours, and we were given very harsh and rude treatment,” Kaya said, noting “the European attitude towards a female minister three days after the International Women’s Day is a tragicomedy.”
The minister also pointed out that she had diplomatic immunity and that the Turkish consulate where she was expected to speak was “part of our homeland and we do not need to get permission for [entering it].”
She said “democratic and humanitarian values were trampled underfoot” as the Turkish delegation was being forcibly escorted to the German border near the town of Nijmegen.
The family minister was visiting Rotterdam to speak at an event organized to drum up support among emigre Turks for a referendum on expanding the powers of Turkey’s president, which is scheduled for April of this year.
The rally was subsequently derailed and the pro-Turkish demonstrators dispersed, with the Dutch authorities citing concerns that such events could affect security days before the Netherlands’ parliamentary elections.
The Netherlands’ actions have understandably infuriated Ankara, with top-tier officials promising retaliatory measures.
Shortly after President Recep Tayip Erdogan branded the Dutch “Nazi remnants,” Turkish authorities sealed off the Dutch embassy and consulate. Meanwhile, the Dutch ambassador to Turkey, who is currently home on leave, was told not to return to his post “for some time.”
Later on Sunday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Ankara demands a formal apology from the Netherlands.
“We have begun to give a response and said the [Dutch] ambassador should not come to [Turkey] and he cannot. We will take steps and then the Netherlands will apologize. Otherwise, we will continue to take these steps,” Cavusoglu was quoted by Hurriyet as saying.
Turkey responsible for safety of Dutch diplomats, Netherlands says
Meanwhile, the Dutch Foreign Ministry said that Ankara bears responsibility for the safety of its diplomats in Turkey, according to Reuters.
“The situation is unclear. The Turkish authorities are responsible for the safety of the Dutch diplomatic mission in Turkey. We have filed a complaint with the Turkish authorities,” the Dutch Foreign Ministry said shortly after Turkish protesters pulled down the Dutch flag outside the consulate general of the Netherlands in Istanbul and replaced it with Turkey’s.
Amid the tit-for-tat row, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he is determined to alleviate the mounting tensions between the two NATO allies.
“I’ve never experienced this before, but we want to be the more prudent party,” Rutte said, as cited by Reuters.