Dutch, Turkish ministers hold talks as integration row heats up
Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders called his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on the night of Nov. 26. The two spoke about the integration of Turkish and Muslim immigrants in the northern European country. AFP PhotoThe foreign ministers of Turkey and the Netherlands have reportedly spoken on the phone about escalating tension over the integration of Turkish and Muslim immigrants in the northern European country.
Diplomatic sources said Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders called his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on the night of Nov. 26 to discuss the row, which has been provoked by Dutch politicians’ concerns over the Turkish community’s integration into Dutch society, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Nov. 27.
While Turkey has been irked by “aggressive and racist policies” toward the Turkish community living in
the Netherlands and the depiction of Turks as jihadist sympathizers, the Netherlands has expressed concern over Turkey’s interference in the matter.
“Direct interference by a foreign power in a democratic debate within the Netherlands is inappropriate,” Koenders was quoted by Dutch news agency ANP as telling Çavuşoğlu during the conversation.
For his part, the Turkish minister reportedly denied allegations that the Turkish government has taken steps to impede Turks’ integration into Dutch society.
However, the two ministers agreed that “integration does not mean assimilation” and that a thriving Turkish community in Netherlands would be a success for both countries, according to sources.
They also reportedly agreed to have an official meeting as soon as possible to discuss bilateral relations in detail.
Turkey concerned over ‘xenophobia’
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry had previously released a statement that complained to Dutch authorities about “aggressive and racist accusations” being made against the Turkish community in the Netherlands, and warned that the issue could harm bilateral relations.
Foreign ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic said in a written statement on Nov. 26 that Dutch government officials had prepared a xenophobic report about Turkish associations in the Netherlands.
“Aggressive and racist accusations toward Turks who are part of Dutch society and who come from a friendly allied nation are unacceptable,” read the statement. “We have difficulty understanding why these racist attacks, which are incompatible with our long history with the Dutch nation, have been on the agenda recently.”
Turkish officials are also infuriated by a report stating that around 80 percent of young Turkish people in the Netherlands support jihadist movements.
Mosque purge suggestion
Adding fuel to the fire, a Party for Freedom (PVV) lawmaker in recently proposed that all mosques in the Netherlands should be closed. However, Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher said any closure of mosques in the country would be “unacceptable.”
“Dutch unity, identity and culture are being wrecked by immigration and incubation. We do not want Islam in the Netherlands,” PVV deputy Machiel de Graaf had said.
Two weeks ago, two lawmakers of Turkish descent from the Labor Party (PvdA) were expelled after refusing to support their party’s critical remarks about a number of Turkish organizations accused of being “too focused on promoting Turkish and Islamic identity.”
The expelled parliamentarians said they were asked to sign a declaration during a party meeting aimed at stepping up surveillance on four Turkish organizations, but they refused to do so and were removed from the party as a result.