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Turkey says Dutch liberals dragging Europe into 'religious wars'

Cavusoglu has been promoting Turkey at an international tourism expo [AFP]

Date of publication: 16 March, 2017

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While the rest of Europe is celebrating the defeat of a far-right party in the Dutch polls, Turkey is continuing its war of words with The Netherlands.

Turkey has launched into a new tirade against The Netherlands', warning that liberals there are dragging Europe into a "religious war".

It follows a surprisingly poor performance from anti-immigration Dutch politician Geert Wilders in the  nation's general election, coinciding with an ongoing row between The Netherlands and Turkey.

While the result drew celebrations in Europe, Turkey had little praise for the centre-right party that defeated the far-right.

"You look at the social democrats and the fascist Wilders there is no difference, they have the same mentality," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said according to Anadolu.

"All have the same mentality. Where will you go? Where are you taking Europe? You have started to collapse Europe. You are dragging Europe into the abyss. Some religious wars will soon begin in Europe."

He then explained that 100 years ago "different faiths" of Europe were "killing each other" but did not elaborate.

"But they learned a lesson from this and the European Union, the Council of Europe was set up," Cavusoglu said. "Europe is going back to those old days."

The comments follow the defeat of anti-Muslim politician Geert Wilders to the ruling centre-right People's Party for Freedom and Democracy.

Wilders' Party for Freedom did come in second place and follows a vocal campaign by the far-right leader when he frequently lambasted Dutch Muslims.

Still, Ankara is furious about a decision by the ruling centre-right party to block the participation of Turkish ministers in demonstrations in The Netherlands.

Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is trying to rally European-Turkish citizens around plans to change the country's constitution which will be put to a popular vote in April. 

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has taken a tough line on the attendance of Turkish ministers at these rallies, as Ankara attempts to win the support of Dutch-Turkish citizens.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other leading Turkish have launched into tirades against The Netherlands for the move.

Cavusoglu warned again on Thursday that The Netherlands would pay for its stance.

"You will see in the coming period, we will take further steps," he said.

Turkey has blocked the return of the Dutch ambassador to Ankara and said it might scrap an EU deal to limit immigration to Europe.

Agencies contributed to this story.

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