ANKARA/ROTTERDAM: Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte barred on Saturday a plane carrying Turkey’s foreign minister from landing, saying his visit will be a threat to public order.
The move comes after Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said he will travel to Rotterdam, despite a ban on him addressing a rally there.
The Dutch are due to vote in a national election on Wednesday, in which anti-immigration sentiment has played a prominent role.
In a statement published on his official Facebook page, Rutte said that Turkey had upset discussions under which Cavusoglu would have been allowed to enter the country, by calling for a massive public rally.
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A Turkish threat of sanctions if Cavusoglu were denied entry “made a reasonable solution impossible”, said Rutte.
The decision was made amid a dispute over Ankara’s campaigning among emigre Turks in support of new powers for President Tayyip Erdogan spread through Europe.
The announcement came hours after Cavusoglu said that the Netherlands was treating Turkish citizens like hostages in hindering their contact with Ankara.
The Dutch government cited public order and security
concerns in withdrawing landing rights for Cavusoglu’s flight.
But it said Cavusoglu’s threat of political and
economic sanctions if travel permission were withdrawn made the
search for a reasonable solution impossible.
Cavusoglu had been due to fly to Rotterdam to marshal
support among the Turkish community for extended powers for
Erdogan – a potentially divisive issue in Turkey where a referendum will take place next month.
City authorities said on Friday they were banning the rally. Cavusoglu said on Saturday he would fly anyway, and had been expected to appear at the Turkish consulate, as he had done when city authorities in Hamburg banned him from speaking last week.
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“If my going will increase tensions, let it be,” he told CNN.
“What damage will my going have on them? I am a foreign minister and I can go wherever I want,” he added.
Rutte said that while the Netherlands and Turkey could search for “an acceptable solution”, Turkey was not respecting the rules relating to public gatherings.
“Many Dutch people with a Turkish background are authorised
to vote in the referendum over the Turkish constitution,” he said.
”The Dutch government does not have any protest against gatherings in our country to inform them about it,” he said on Facebook.
“But these gatherings may contribute to tensions in our society and everyone who wants to hold a gathering is obliged to follow instructions of those in authority so that public order and safety can be guaranteed,” Rutte added.