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A diplomatic spat between Turkey and the Netherlands is evolving.
Source of the controversy: Turkish upcoming referendum on a constitutional change, which would give more powers to the president. The president has been clamping down on opposition ever since the attempted coup, and securing his reign. Changing the constitution is another step in this process, which is seen by some as a large step towards eradicating democracy.
The Netherlands comes into play as the Turkish ruling party (AK) wishes to campaign for a "yes" vote in other countries, such as Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands. None of those countries is happy with an uninvited campaign visit by foreign politicians. The Turkish minister of foreign affairs was supposed to come to the Netherlands to campaign. The Dutch government strongly counselled against his visit, stating amongst others that they do not want the Netherlands to host a rallying call for eradication of democracy. However, the rally could not be forbidden just because the contents was yuck to those in power - free speech and all that.
After this started hitting the news, the owners of the rooms that were booked for these rallies cancelled these bookings. Meanwhile, talks were ongoing between the two countries to resolve the situation. The Dutch government claims that the Turks started threatening with sanctions, and (my rephrasing) refused to be held hostage to how to govern their own country. In the midst of this evolving diplomatic spat, the Turkish minister of foreign affairs got onto a plane to the Netherlands.
As a side note: the Netherlands is having elections in 4 days (15th of March).
It gets better. The short short version:
- Saturday morning, the Dutch government cancelled the landing rights of the plane carrying the Turkish minister of foreign affairs.
- In response, Turkish president Erdogan called the Dutch nazis and fascists [bbc.com]
- Turkish and Dutch communities were getting riled up.
This has created an atmosphere where any mayor can forbid a Turkish rally on the legitimate grounds that safety and security cannot be guaranteed. Yeah, that's not helping.
With the elections close, of course there's political posturing. Virtually all politicians think that this is a backwards step for Turkey, and that Turkish politicians should not be campaigning here.
But wait: it gets *even* better!
- Saturday evening, The Turkish minister of education snuck into the Netherlands by car.
- Her motorcade was stopped before arriving at the consulate, as the area around the Turkish consulate was now a no-go area thanks to the rising tensions
- There are calls on social media for Turks to travel to the consulate to protest.
- Turkey just announced that the Dutch ambassador to Turkey (who is not on his post currently) is not welcome back.
The ambassador not being welcome is literally breaking as I write this - I'm sure there will be more developments before this can be posted. See the live updates here [nos.nl].
My €0.02: Freedom of speech is important, even if you end up defending scoundrels [quotationspage.com] (H.L. Mencken). However:
- every municipality has the right to forbid activities on its ground where it feels safety cannot be guaranteed.
- The Netherlands has elections in 4 days. Before today, the actions by the AK party were already decried as a gift to the anti-foreigners party. With current events evolving like this? I would expect quite a significant increase in seats for this party.