Turkish FM discusses visit to the Netherlands with Dutch minister
AFP photoTurkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu spoke on the phone to his Dutch counterpart Bert Koenders on March 8 ahead of his planned visit to the Netherlands in a bid to address Turks living there on constitutional change referendum campaigns in Turkey.
The Dutch government stated on March 3 that it opposed plans by Turkish authorities to hold a referendum campaign rally in Rotterdam, saying it would inform Ankara of its opposition to the “undesirable” move.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the visit, planned for just four days before the Dutch general elections, was “undesirable.”
“We are not going to cooperate. Dutch public spaces are not the place for other country’s political campaigns,” he said.
Geert Wilders, leader of the far-right Freedom Party (PVV) in the Netherlands, said he was against the referendum rally that Çavuşoğlu is scheduled to attend on March 11.
Wilders joined a protest outside the Turkish Embassy in The Hague on March 8, holding a banner that said “Stay away, this is our country.”
“We cannot allow Turkish ministers to come to the Netherlands and lobby in our country for such a regime. We would not allow North Korea and Saudi Arabia to lobby as well,” he told reporters.
Noting that he could not understand why the Dutch government did not prevent Çavuşoğlu’s speech, Wilders wanted the Turkish ministers to be temporarily declared “unwanted man, persona non grata” until the April 16 referendum.
“They say the situation is complicated for them and it will be better if the visit is delayed. But they firstly made a populist post in a social network and then they secretly informed us on the situation. Such behavior does not fit allies and partners. Of course, we consider such behavior unacceptable,” Çavuşoğlu said March 7, as quoted by state-run Anadolu Agency.
Dutch officials informed the Turkish side that in case he visited the Netherlands, it would benefit Wilders, Çavuşoğlu stated.