Turkey-Netherlands ties not suspended: Deputy PM

Turkey-Netherlands ties not suspended: Deputy PM

ANKARA – Anadolu Agency
Turkey-Netherlands ties not suspended: Deputy PM

Diplomatic relations between Ankara and Amsterdam have not been suspended, Turkey’s deputy prime minister and government spokesman said on Feb. 5.

“The Netherlands has not had an ambassador in Ankara for the past year. They have announced they will officially withdraw a non-existent ambassador,” Bekir Bozdağ told reporters after a cabinet meeting in Ankara.

“This is not a new event for us. It is a declaration that is known. However, diplomatic relations between the Netherlands and Turkey have not been suspended,” he said, adding that relations remain at the charge d’affaires level.

His remarks follow a move by the Netherlands earlier on Feb. 5 to formally withdraw its ambassador to Turkey over a 2017 row.

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 Family and Social Affairs Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya from Rotterdam, blocking her from addressing the Turkish community in the Netherlands before the April 2017 referendum.

Moreover, rallies organized by Turks there in favor of constitutional changes to shift Turkey to an executive presidential system faced restrictions from both central and local governments.

‘Operation Olive Branch’

Turning to the Turkish-led “Operation Olive Branch” in Syria’s northwestern Afrin region, Bozdağ said Ankara would destroy all kinds of weapon and munition sent to the Afrin region.

“Every type of weapon and munition sent to Afrin is Turkey’s target. We will shoot, destroy or seize wherever we see them,” he said.

“The Turkish Air Force is using the airspace in Afrin region effectively. There is no problem over using the airspace right now,” Bozdağ said in response to a question on whether Russia closed the airspace in Afrin 

“We do not expect any problem [over using the airspace] to arise in the future either,” he added.

Turkey launched “Operation Olive Branch” on Jan. 20 to remove Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants from Afrin.