Netherlands withdraws its ambassador from Turkey after negotiations with Ankara fail

Netherlands withdraws its ambassador from Turkey after negotiations with Ankara fail

Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
Netherlands withdraws its ambassador from Turkey after negotiations with Ankara fail

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

The Dutch government also announced that it will not allow the Turkish ambassador to return to his office in The Hague.

The move came after the failure of talks between the two sides, with the Netherlands reportedly refusing Turkey’s demand that it issue an apology to Family and Social Policy Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya for not allowing her to enter the Turkish consulate and extraditing her after a police intervention last year.

That incident occurred as relations between Turkey and the Netherlands soured ahead of the April 2017 referendum on shifting to an executive presidential system in Turkey, with the Dutch authorities also canceling the flight permit of a plane carrying Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on March 11, 2017.

“We wanted the Dutch authorities to take a step to compensate for their attitude against our minister, which failed to comply with diplomatic conventions,” a Turkish official told the Hürriyet Daily News on condition of anonymity, referring to talks between the two sides.

The Dutch government argues that Kaya did not have a diplomatic immunity and is not subject to diplomatic conventions.

A Dutch Foreign Ministry statement announced the decision to withdraw its ambassador to Turkey on Feb. 5.

“The Netherlands and Turkey have recently held talks at various levels. At this stage, these talks do not yet offer a perspective to normalizing the bilateral relations. Minister Zijlstra: ‘Recent talks offered Turkey and the Netherlands an opportunity to come closer to each other, but we have not been able to agree on the way normalization should take place,” read the statement, quoting Dutch Foreign Minister Halbe Zijlstra.

“Therefore the Dutch government has decided to officially withdraw the Netherlands’ Ambassador in Ankara, who has not had access to Turkey since March 2017. As long as the Netherlands has no Ambassador to Turkey, the Netherlands will also not issue permission for a new Turkish ambassador to take up duties in the Netherlands. This message has just been conveyed to the Turkish chargé d’affaires in The Hague. This has brought a pause in the talks with Turkey,” said the statement.

A Dutch diplomat told the Hürriyet Daily News in Ankara that the two parties “could not find the mutual concession balance in the negotiations,” expressing disappointment at the development, which goes against the two countries’ “400-year history of friendship.”

The diplomat underlined that the Dutch government’s decision to withdraw the ambassador from Turkey was about reassign him to a new post, as he has not been able to return to his duties in Ankara.

“For more than 10 months, one of our most senior diplomats has not been able to come to the country where he is serving. This decision is related to the appointment of our valuable member elsewhere,” the diplomat said.