Tensions Rising between Turkish, European Leaders before Elections
Albanian Daily News
Published March 13, 2017
Protestors wave Turkish flags outside the Dutch consulate in Istanbul, March 11.

Turkey and the Netherlands' diplomatic feud deepened Sunday with the Turkish president accusing the NATO ally of fascism, and declaring the Dutch would "pay the price" for harming relations.

The Danish Prime Minister also entered the fray, saying he couldn't host a yet-to-be scheduled visit by his Turkish counterpart in light of "current rhetorical attacks" against the Dutch.

Upcoming votes in Turkey and the Netherlands serve as a backdrop for the dispute: In Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has cracked down on opposition -- particularly journalists, academics and the public service sector -- since a July coup attempt, is pushing an April referendum that would expand his powers.

In the Netherlands, this week's general elections will pit a hardline anti-Islam candidate in a tight race against the incumbent prime minister.

Erdogan is keen to rally the roughly 4.6 million expatriate Turks living in Western Europe, many of whom will be permitted to vote in the Turkish referendum.

Following similar moves in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, the Netherlands on Saturday barred a plane carrying Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from entering the country, citing security concerns. Cavusoglu sought to address expats in support of the Turkish referendum. The Dutch also stopped Turkey's family affairs minister from entering the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam.

Protests broke out in both countries, and Erdogan responded by saying the Netherlands is "sacrificing Turkish-Dutch relations" and accused the country -- which lost more than 200,000 of its citizens during Germany's World War II occupation -- of Nazism. Rotterdam, where Cavusoglu hoped to speak, was especially hard hit by the Nazis.

(Source: CNN)


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