Turkey, Netherlands agree to turn ‘new page’ in ties

Turkey, Netherlands agree to turn ‘new page’ in ties

Turkey, Netherlands agree to turn ‘new page’ in ties

Turkey and the Netherlands have agreed to leave a two-year long bilateral dispute behind by turning a “new page” in ties and by intensifying cooperation in the field of economy and intelligence sharing, the foreign ministers of the two countries have confirmed during the Dutch top diplomat’s visit to the Turkish capital. 

“As we have agreed, we have decided to leave all these [troubles] behind and to look at the future,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said during a joint press conference with his Dutch counterpart Stef Blok on Oct. 3 in Ankara.

“Hereafter, we want to develop our ties [with the Netherlands] by focusing on a joint positive agenda,” Çavuşoğlu said, adding that both countries have drawn lessons from the two-year long break in ties.

Ties between the two NATO allies have severely deteriorated after the Netherlands had prevented the Turkish politicians from holding campaigns for the Turkish community in its territories ahead of a crucial referendum in April 2016. A Turkish minister had even been deported on the grounds she had not received clearance from the Dutch authorities.

Turkey had withdrawn its ambassador and disallowed the Dutch ambassador who was in his country at that time to return to Ankara. Ties between the two countries have started to normalize following a mutual decision to exchange ambassadors this summer.

Çavuşoğlu recalled Turkey has launched a new effort for improving its ties with Europe and the European Union and that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent trip to Germany was part of this campaign.

“We now want to revive our relations with Europe and the EU. We have this commitment and we have received a similar approach from the EU and Europe. This must continue,” he said.

On a question, the minister denied that neither Erdoğan nor himself had likened the Dutch people to Nazis but compared some actions of the previous Dutch government with acts of the Nazi era.

For his part, Blok also underlined the importance of bilateral ties between the two countries, stressing they would focus on the positive agenda set between the two top diplomats.

Praising the role Turkey and Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu have been playing to avoid a fresh humanitarian crisis stemming from the Idlib province of Syria as well as its generosity in hosting more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees on its soil, the Dutch minister underlined that a major security crisis could be averted thanks to the efforts of Turkey.

Democracy, human rights raised during talks

On a question about Turkey’s efforts to revive long stalled accession talks, the Dutch minister confirmed that negotiations for Turkey’s full membership have been suspended at a certain point.

“We have to observe improvements in many fields, such as the rule of law and democracy. Turkey has to take steps on these to revive the accession process,” Blok said, recalling that there are so many criteria to be fulfilled regarding this process.

On economy, despite current difficulties, Turkey still offers a lot of opportunities for foreign investors as it has shown in the last decade, Blok said, informing that a joint economic council would soon meet to discuss ways to increase bilateral trade with Turkey.