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Netherlands expels Turkey’s Family Minister in unprecedented diplomatic row

The diplomatic row between Turkey and the Netherlands has escalated to unprecedented level. The Dutch detained a Turkish minister and escorted her to the borders in Germany, police used dogs and water cannon to disperse angry Turks protesting near the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam on Saturday. Prime Minister Binali Yildirim warned the Netherlands on Sunday that Turkey would retaliate in the “harshest ways”. Speaking at a referendum rally on Saturday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the Dutch ““vestiges of the Nazis,” and “fascists.”

Just hours after Dutch authorities banned Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from flying to Rotterdam, Turkey‘s family minister, Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya, said on Twitter she was being escorted back to Germany.

“The world must take a stance in the name of democracy against this fascist act! This behaviour against a female minister can never be accepted,” she said. The Rotterdam mayor confirmed she was being escorted by police to the German border.

Kaya later boarded a private plane from the German town of Cologne to return to Istanbul, mass-circulating newspaper Hurriyet said on Sunday.

Hundreds of protesters waving Turkish flags gathered outside the Turkish consulate demanding to see the minister. They threw bottles and stones.

Several demonstrators were beaten by police with batons, a witness said. Police carried out charges on horseback, while officers advanced on foot with shields and armoured vans.

The Dutch government, which stands to lose heavily to the anti-Islam party of Geert Wilders in elections next week, said it considered the visits undesirable and “the Netherlands could not cooperate in the public political campaigning of Turkish ministers in the Netherlands.“

The government said it saw the potential to import divisions into its own Turkish minority, which has both pro- and anti-Erdogan camps. Dutch politicians across the spectrum said they supported Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte‘s decision to ban the visits.

PS Adding a bit of my own sauce on the issue, I have to say, I wonder whether the Dutch would have reacted the same way, hadn’t it be for the elections next week.

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  1. The inexperienced Dutch have been played. Erdogan gets his strong referendum win plus …. take a look at the following tweet:

    İleri Haber‏ @ilerihaber Çavuşoğlu’ndan Hollanda’ya ‘lale’ yanıtı: O laleleri biz gönderdik adam olsunlar!

    This stupidity is unprecedented. #Cavusoglu to NL ‘Be a man, we sent those tulips to you during Ottomans’

    [This is a reference to the Tulip bubble or tulipomania, the biggest asset bubble in the pre-industrial age, that they had inadvertently helped to stoke up. I use Gérôme’s painting ( ) depicting Dutch soldiers guarding tulips, for my facebook account. It is there to remind me how financial crises, bubbles, Euro crisis etc end up with ridiculous security arrangements….]

    In other words, the tease is … Erdogan inadvertently helps or stokes up the far right in the coming Dutch elections, fuels the far right in Europe … and we all love fragrant tulips.

    Or, perhaps it is just the equivalent randomly sending Turkish planes over Greek airspace in search of an useful incident that one day might be useful

  2. Thumps up to Netherlands, Germany and Oestria – and hopefully Denmark next week.

    Ergodan is not “fooling” anybody and with the behavior of Turkish citizents in abroad contries he is really playing with fire.

    And Ergodan is the last person who would want a Le pen or a Wilder to win an election.

    What would happen if contries in EU ban dual citizen ship?

    The prize is ofc that Turkie no longer will withholde immigrants – but if thats the prize – it might be worth paying

  3. There is no diplomatic rule, political precedent or legal right for a foreign power to send politicians into another country to campaign amongst its foreign citizens living there. The Dutch had every right to refuse permission for this. Erdogan is out of control, and the EU is clueless about how to deal with this fascist-populist. To a great extent this is because of the illegal “EU-Turkey Statement” that stops refugees from reaching Greece. The cost of this disgraceful arrangement is likely to much higher than merely 6 billion euros — in political terns. If it leads to the far right gaining power across the EU, the cost could actually be all of the European Union.

    • Considering the Dutch have a General Election this Wednesday I think they had a duty to prevent Turkish Ministers speaking at these rallies. And what is more the Turks should have had enough good manners to stay away given the circumstances.

  4. According to Turkish election laws, Turks are prohibited from campaigning in a foreign country. This was law installed by ….drum rolls please….Erdogan himself back in 2008. The Turkish government is violating its own elections laws.
    Anyway, after a week of provocations and insults, the Turks decided to go full ape. The Dutch government had already banned the Turkish foreign minister from flying to the Netherlands and their family minister (whatever that is) wanted to have a go because she was dying for a success after she failed in Germany. She was already at that moment banned from entering NL.
    This is just as much a pro Turkish referendum issue as it is a NL election issue. It is all about PR. While it perhaps was a big national success for the Turks, international they look like a bunch of jerks. NL wins both nationally as internationally. Dutch PM Mark Rutte needed to take the initiative of this away from Wilders. Rutte got his “Falkand moment”. I don’t like the man because he is one of the most lying and deceitful PMs we ever had but from a PR and political point of view he handled this brilliantly.
    The aim was to completely humiliate the Turks. This minister was already banned and they could have stopped her the moment she crossed the border with Germany. This however, would have turned her into a martyr. But they let her advance and only stopped her south of Rotterdam. There, her security detail (who was possibly armed) was detained by special forces. That was humiliation nr.1. They then let her go. She could have decided to return to Germany but that would have meant defeat for her so she went on to the consulate. There she was detained and told by a lower rank cop (so not somebody from the mayor’s office or a police commissioner) that she was detained and advised to take “the shortest route back to Germany”. This happened 30m from the consulate. So close, yet so far. She was humiliated on the spot and could only react by shouting. Then the Turkish demonstrators got an ass whooping by the police showing it was the Dutch authorities that were in charge and not them. The minister had no other choice but to return to Germany. She had been completely unsuccessful.
    It were the Dutch that played the Turks, not the other way around. The Turks can now shout all they wants about apologies and sanctions etc. but they will only make bigger fools of themselves.

    • Thanks Joe A, fair point. my comment missed out the trip from from Germany (and the details of the trip to the south of Rotterdam). I agreed , with on-coming elections, it does make Mark Rutte look like he is going for a “Falkland” moment. As for: “Turks can now shout all they want…… and only make bigger fools of themselves”. Don’t underestimate the damage a fool can do. particularly if the “fool” wants to be seen as regional power in the Balkans and Middle East…. so I am still suspicious of who is playing what.

      • Meow, fair enough Cheshire Cat. Yet, it was all grandstanding from both sides but I think the Dutch government was right to show that it are the Dutch authorities that are the boss in NL and not Ankara. Erdogan of course is only interested in securing the referendum and he will win big even if he needs to rig votes for that. We will see what the elections will bring in NL coming Wednesday. Both Rutte and Wilders are expected to win big. Rutte already has ruled out governing with Wilders but with him you never know.
        Indeed, fools can cause big damage, especially in the Balkans and the ME but nobody there is longing for a return of the Ottoman Empire.
        Good remark about “who is playing what”. It is all geopolitics.