How did Holland fall below its league?
One significant difficulty facing us while evaluating the situation that emerged last weekend in the Netherlands is that no such incident has ever occurred in recent history. There is no other example of a foreign minister’s plane not being able to land in an allied country. Also unique was the situation experienced when Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya was not allowed to enter the Turkish Consulate in Rotterdam and was later declared persona non grata and escorted out of the country.
Let alone international law and all international agreements, this is humiliating behavior that fails to meet even the minimum criteria of civilization. The fact that such primitiveness has been able to appear in 2017 in Holland - a country with a reputation, until recently, as one of the most liberal and pro-freedom in Europe - says a lot about the state of affairs in the Old Continent. In fact, all of these incidents show the rise in racism, xenophobia and bullying in Europe.
This dark wave, as a contagious virus, erodes the civilized criteria of Europe and at the same time takes hostage political institutions and actors. We can see how a liberal politician, who up until now has adopted a reasonable policy, is shifting in order to not lose votes to his racist rival in the election to be held today, March 15. He has not refrained from practices that would otherwise be quite embarrassing for a liberal.
In the background of recent incidents, the exclusionist climate against Muslims and Turks gathering pace in Europe cannot be underestimated. All these factors, combined with the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) decision to extend its campaigning to Holland, have suddenly triggered this unfortunate tremor.
What is particularly worrying is the possibility that this tremor will make life difficult for Turks and Muslims living in Europe in the future. When governments resort to such practices, we cannot ignore the possibility of xenophobia spreading to extremists in different segments of society.
Unless it is taken under control, this course of events may cause irreparable damage to Turkey’s relations with Europe and in general the West.
This turn in relations is not good either for Europe or Turkey. The image of a country fighting and scuffling with everyone does no good for Turkey, where economic growth has stopped and tourism is in a crisis. At a time when major uncertainties are experienced in the region, when national borders are cracking, and when the catastrophe of ISIL is a problem dangling over everyone’s head, the total elimination of Turkey’s European perspective could seriously limit Ankara’s international position. Turkey should thus avoid emotional, impulsive steps that would inflame the spread of these issues.
Let’s not forget that in Europe there are countries that do not think or act like the Netherlands has done. There are those that act reasonably. It would not be correct to divert to a more anti-Europe, anti-West stance based on recent events.
Yes, we have the right to speak out against these ugly acts and we will do so. However, while we justifiably raise our voices against violations of freedom of expression and demonstration in the Netherlands, we should also not forget our commitment to protect these freedoms within our own national borders.