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Turkey-Dutch relations sink to lowest point since Ottoman times

Turkey's leaders are campaigning for changes to the constitution [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 14 March, 2017

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Relations between Turkey and The Netherlands have gone from bad to worse, as Ankara formally bars the Dutch ambassador from re-entering the country.

Turkey announced it would suspend top-level diplomatic ties with The Netherlands on Monday by blocking the return of The Hague's ambassador to Ankara.

Ankara said it would not allow the Dutch ambassador to return to his work until The Netherlands meet Turkey's conditions on allowing protests in the European country.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is furious at steps taken by The Netherlands to prevent Turkish ministers attending pro-Ankara rallies in the northern European country.

"Until the Netherlands compensates for what it has done, high-level relations and planned meetings at a ministerial and higher level have been suspended," said Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus after a cabinet meeting in Ankara.

Ambassador Kees Cornelis van Rij is currently outside of the country, and business is being handled by Dutch charge d'affaires.

Ankara has warned of "consequences" for The Netherlands for its stance, and after a Turkish minister was deported for trying to address a meeting in Rotterdam.

Alleged police brutality against the Turkish protesters did little to quell the unrest, while Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya also said she received "ugly treatment" at the hands of Dutch authorities.

The Netherlands later barred Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from landing in the country, further ramping up tensions between the two countries.

Ankara is attempting to rally Turkish dual citizens in European behind a referendum granting further powers to President Erdogan.

The Netherlands and some EU countries have said pro-Ankara rallies are a threat to public security and have attempted to bar Turkish ministers attending these meetings.

The moves from both parties have led to the lowest point in Dutch-Turkish relations in 400 years, and the row between the two countries is showing no sign of abating.

The Netherlands issued a travel warning for Dutch citizens in Turkey urging them to stay "alert across the whole of [the country]". Germany similarly warned its citizens to stay vigilant of protests aimed against Berlin.

Erdogan has took aim at German leader Angela Merkel for her government's line on the pro-Ankara rallies.

During a TV interview Erdogan accused Merkel of supporting "terrorists", hinting that Germany is providing refuge for suspected masterminds behind a failed coup in Turkey last year and Kurdish separatists. 

"Mrs Merkel, why are you hiding terrorists in your country? Why are you not doing anything?"

Merkel described the accusations as "absurd" and said she would not wade into the war of words. For The Netherlands and Turkey, that stage appears to be well gone.

Agencies contributed to this story.

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