Dutch FM warns no safety 'guarantees' for visitors to Turkey
THE HAGUE - Agence France-PresseDutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders has warned the Netherlands cannot guarantee the safety of citizens travelling to Turkey if they have been critical of Turkish leaders.
The warning, made during a parliamentary debate on April 26, comes as the Dutch government is working to lift a travel ban on Dutch-Turkish journalist Ebru Umar who was briefly arrested over the weekend for tweeting comments critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Umar, a well-known Dutch feminist journalist of Turkish origin, said she was hauled out of bed and arrested late on April 23 at her home in Kuşadası, a resort town in western Turkey.
She was released on April 24 after being questioned for 16 hours as top Dutch officials raised their concerns with their Turkish counterparts. But she is not allowed to leave the country and must report to police twice a week.
Koenders said the government was being "very active" on Umar's case and "hoped she may return home soon."
But asked April 26 in the Dutch parliament if he could provide guarantees for Dutch or Dutch-Turkish citizens travelling to Turkey on holiday who may have criticised Erdoğan on social media, he said "no".
"There are no guarantees," Koenders insisted. "We have just had a case showing exactly what can happen. That is why we are working on it. But I cannot give any guarantees."
He also delivered a sharp warning to Turkey that "if it wants to step closer to Europe, it must significantly improve its behaviour."
"Let's be honest. You can't treat the press and press freedom this way, if you want to be part of Europe."
Umar's treatment has sparked anger in The Netherlands, and she tweeted out a new video message of thanks April 27 for the "heartwarming" support.