Turkish sanctions against The Netherlands and threats of reviewing EU-Turkey agreement on migration
Tuesday, 14 March 2017
The Dutch government is studying the sanctions announced on Monday by Ankara in the midst of a diplomatic row between Turkey and the Netherlands. This follows the Dutch government’s refusal to allow Turkish ministers to enter Dutch territory to convince the Turkish diaspora to vote “yes” in the forthcoming referendum on strengthening the presidential powers in Turkey. In The Netherlands, general elections will take place tomorrow (15 March). The government’s decision to ban the entry of Turkish ministers has already influenced the opinion polls. The Dutch elections will be followed this year by other crucial elections in EU Member States where populist anti-migration parties are expected to win ground.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, speaking in the framework of the RTL Late Night program (14 March), said that he could not yet comment in detail on Turkey’s sanctions which just had been announced. Nevertheless, he stressed that they were not in the economic sphere. “We have a lot of investments there, we’re first or second at that level, so I understand they’re not targeting that,” he said.
The Turkish government, furious at having seen the plane of its foreign minister prevented from landing on Dutch soil over the weekend, has been making increasingly virulent criticism of the Dutch authorities. Pro-Erdogan rallies were also banned in Germany.
The Dutch ambassador to Turkey is now persona non grata in Ankara, “until the conditions” laid down by Turkey “are fulfilled”. Turkey also announced the exclusion of Dutch diplomats from its airspace, and its government has called on parliament to denounce the friendship treaty existing between the two countries, while high-level bilateral meetings are put to a halt.
“We are doing exactly what they did to us,” commented the Turkish deputy Prime Minister Numan Kutulmus.
Turkish Minister for European Affairs Omer Celik also spoke of “re-examination” of the March 2016 agreement with the European Union on stemming the flow of migrants trying to reach Europe via Turkey. The deputy Prime Minister said that “the agreement has come to an end.“ A veiled threat that did not seem to impress Mark Rutte.
“We are hearing this all the time. This deal is also in the interest of Turkey. We are helping Turkey to receive Syrian refugees. We are doing this together to solve the problem,” he said.
Yesterday (13 March), the European Commission issued a statement calling to avoid further escalation and find ways to calm down the situation but this has apparently not been heeded. “Matters of concern can only be resolved through open and direct communication channels. We will continue to provide our good offices in the interest of EU-Turkey relations,” said the statement.