Turkey presses Netherlands with sanctions, int’l actions

Turkey presses Netherlands with sanctions, int’l actions

Serkan Demirtaş - ANKARA
Turkey presses Netherlands with sanctions, int’l actions


Turkey has announced an initial batch of sanctions against the Netherlands that largely focuses on the political and diplomatic sphere while also filing complaints at top international institutions on the grounds that the Dutch government violated the 1961 Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations with its actions against Turkish ministers. 

“After the steps taken in a cabinet meeting [late on March 13], there will be further steps in the pipeline,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in a speech he delivered on the occasion of Doctors’ Day on March 14.

“Issuing an apology will not suffice. The Netherlands will be held to account for what it did,” Erdoğan said, in reference to the Dutch government’s use of force against the Turkish community in Rotterdam and the refusal to permit a Turkish minister to go to the Turkish consulate. Turkey demanded an official apology from the Netherlands through a diplomatic note issued on March 13. 

Tension between Ankara and The Hague has escalated over the last week after the latter requested that Turkish ministers who wanted to campaign in the Netherlands on the eve of April 16 referendum not come until after Dutch general elections on March 15.

Turkey’s cabinet revealed a set of sanctions against the Netherlands which did not include economic measures. The sanctions include a ban on the Dutch ambassador and diplomatic flights from the Netherlands, as well as the cancelation of all high-level political meetings between the two parties. 

“We are doing exactly what they did to us. We are not allowing planes carrying Dutch diplomats or envoys to land in Turkey or to use our airspace,” Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş told a news conference after a cabinet meeting. “Those creating this crisis are responsible for fixing it.” Kurtulmuş also said Turkey’s deal to stop the flow of migrants into Europe may need to be re-evaluated. He said high-level government meetings would be suspended between the two countries until the Netherlands atoned for its actions.

Turkey applies to key international bodies 

As part of measures against the Netherlands, Turkey will apply to three high-level international organizations to complain about the Netherlands’ breach of the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations on late March 11 by detaining Turkey’s chargé d’affaires and other diplomats and by temporarily seizing cars with diplomatic plates, diplomatic sources have said.

According to information gathered by the Hürriyet Daily News from diplomatic sources, Turkey will file a complaint against the Netherlands with the United Nations, the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and to the Council of Europe (CoE) on the grounds that the Dutch government violated Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations from 1961.

On March 11, Turkish Family Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya was stopped by Dutch security forces while on her way to the Turkish General Consulate in Rotterdam where she was planning to meet representatives of the Turkish community. At the time, she was being accompanied by Turkey’s chargé d’affaires to The Hague, Alper Yüksel, and other Turkish diplomats.

As the Turkish community in Rotterdam protested the Dutch government for stopping Kaya and for refusing to permit Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu’s planned visit to the city, Dutch security forces intensified measures and detained Yüksel and other Turkish diplomats, as well as drivers for the Turkish embassy.

According to the Vienna convention, diplomats enjoy a large degree of immunity and cannot be taken into detention. Likewise, cars with diplomatic plates cannot be seized or even checked. After refusing Kaya and her entourage entry to the consulate, the Turkish convoy was escorted by Dutch police back over the border into Germany.

“What happened on that night is a clear violation of the Vienna Convention,” a diplomatic source told the Daily News on March 13. “All these three organizations acknowledge the Vienna Convention as the basis of conducting diplomatic relations. They should have a say on the Netherlands’ clear breach of this convention,” the source said.

Kaya’s plan was not to hold a rally in Rotterdam but to meet representatives of the Turkish community, the source said, noting that her move would have reduced the tension but that the Dutch government did not permit this. Stopping a Turkish minister or Turkish citizens from accessing the Turkish consulate is also a violation of the convention.

Dutch diplomats ‘apologized for detention’   

According to the information gathered, the Dutch Foreign Ministry verbally apologized for the detention of the Turkish diplomats during discussions between the two sides’ diplomats after the crisis. The Dutch police did not realize that they had diplomatic immunity because of the mayhem of the night, the Dutch Foreign Ministry explained to Ankara, according to Turkish sources.