Gaziantep mayor cancels Netherlands visit after reservations of The Hague

Gaziantep mayor cancels Netherlands visit after reservations of The Hague

Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
Gaziantep mayor cancels Netherlands visit after reservations of The Hague

Fatma Şahin, the mayor of the southeastern province of Gaziantep, has cancelled a planned visit to Deventer in the Netherlands after consultations between Turkish and Dutch diplomats about the reservations of The Hague over the timing of the visit.

Şahin, a former minister, was scheduled to speak at a women-only gathering at the Centrum Mosque in Deventer on March 10. The visit was set to occur at a time coinciding with the anniversary of a diplomatic crisis between the two countries on March 11.

The crisis erupted last year when Family Affairs Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya visited Rotterdam ahead of a referendum in Turkey despite being barred to enter the country for a rally by the Dutch government.

After Turkey informed the Dutch authorities about Şahin’s program in the Netherlands, The Hague raised concerns about the timing and asked to postpone her visit to a later date.

“We have spoken about the visit with Turkey. We have collectively come to the conclusion that the intended visit at this moment would not be fitting,” Dutch Foreign Affairs authorities told the Hürriyet Daily News.

“The Netherlands and Turkey continue to have dialogue on topics that matter to both countries. That concerns visits, but also matters such as security and migration,” said the Dutch officials.

Relations between Turkey and the Netherlands soured ahead of a major referendum in Turkey on shifting to an executive presidential system when Dutch authorities canceled the flight permit of a plane carrying Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.

The Dutch government also expelled Sayan Kaya, blocking her from addressing the Turkish community in Rotterdam.

The Netherlands and Turkey have suspended negotiations for the normalization of bilateral relations, with the former on Feb. 5 officially announcing the withdrawal of its Ankara ambassador, who has already been absent for more than 10 months since tensions erupted between the two countries last year.

The Dutch government also announced that it would not allow the Turkish ambassador to return to his office in The Hague on the same day, following failed talks between the two countries.