World

Dutch will 'pay price' for expelling minister

Turkish President Erdogan accuses the Netherlands of 'Nazism, fascism'

ISTANBUL Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday threatened that the Netherlands, which expelled a Turkish minister, would "pay a price".

"Hey Holland! If you are sacrificing Turkish-Dutch relations for the sake of the elections on Wednesday, you will pay a price," an angry Mr Erdogan told a ceremony in Istanbul.

"They will learn what diplomacy is," he growled, adding that what happened "cannot remain unanswered".

Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya was expelled after being prevented from addressing a rally in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam, AFP reported.

On Saturday, Turkey attempted to send Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to the Netherlands to hold a rally among Dutch-Turkish immigrants in support of a referendum campaign that aims to give Mr Erdogan new powers.

The Netherlands, which had asked the minister not to come, revoked landing permission for his plane, Reuters reported.

Later that day, Ms Fatma travelled to Rotterdam from Germany and attempted to address the crowd.

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She was stopped by Dutch police, declared an undesirable alien and escorted back to the German border.

Turkish officials claimed Ms Fatma said she and her entourage were subjected to "rude and tough treatment".

Mr Erdogan said: "They went as far as to lock the door of the consulate (in Rotterdam)."

He reaffirmed his accusations from Saturday that the Dutch behaviour over the Turkish visits was "Nazism, fascism".

"They will pay the price of treating my citizens, my Foreign Minister... in an impudent way."

Indicating that he too plans to travel to Europe for rallies, Mr Erdogan added: "I can go to any country I want if I have a diplomatic passport."

The latest row came after Nato allies Turkey and Germany sparred over the cancellation of a series of referendum campaign events there.

"The West has clearly shown its true face in the last couple of days," Mr Erdogan said.

Meanwhile, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte yesterday said he would do everything to "de-escalate" the diplomatic confrontation with Turkey.

He said: "I've never experienced this before, but we want to be the more prudent party.

"If they escalate, we will have to respond, but we will do everything in our power to de-escalate."

Around 2,000 Erdogan supporters demonstrating with Turkish flags in front of the Turkish Consulate in Rotterdam were dispersed in the early morning hours by military police using horseback charges and water cannons.

Mr Rutte, who is running neck and neck with anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders in Dutch elections to be held on Wednesday, said the Netherlands was within its rights to block Turkish rallies, as they present a threat to public order.

Around 500,000 Turkish immigrants and their children live in the Netherlands, most of them holding dual nationality with eligibility to vote in both countries.

Mr Rutte also hit out at Ankara for treating Dutch people with Turkish roots as Turkish citizens.

"These are Dutch citizens," he insisted, adding that like Turkey, "the Netherlands is a proud country".

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