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Turkey defies Netherlands over minister's campaigning visit

Mevlut Cavusoglu wants to drum up support for a high-stakes referendum in Turkey [Getty]

Date of publication: 11 March, 2017

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Mevlut Cavusoglu was pencilled in to address a planned rally in Rotterdam to gather support for a referendum in Turkey next month, aimed at boosting Erdogan's powers.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said he would go to the Netherlands on Saturday to drum up support for a high-stakes referendum, despite the Dutch government's refusal to facilitate his trip.

"I am going to Rotterdam today (Saturday)," Cavusoglu told CNN-Turk television in an interview. "We will impose heavy sanctions on the Netherlands" if the visit is blocked, he added.

On Thursday, Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders said his country would "in no way" facilitate Cavusoglu's planned visit.

"We will not participate in a visit by a Turkish government official who wants to conduct a political campaign for a referendum," Koenders said.

"Therefore we will not cooperate," he said, adding he had informed Cavusoglu.

Cavusoglu was pencilled in to address a planned rally in the port city of Rotterdam on Saturday to gather support for a referendum in Turkey next month, aimed at boosting the powers of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

But Rotterdam's mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb announced on Wednesday that the gathering was cancelled after an owner said the rally's venue was no longer available.

"If tensions will increase because of my visit, let them be," Cavusoglu said Saturday, adding: "What could be the harm of my visit?"

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