The Netherlands has withdrawn landing rights for a plane carrying a Turkish government minister who wanted to address a rally in support of a controversial referendum giving more power to the president.
Foreign affairs minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu was planning to speak at a meeting in support of the referendum in Rotterdam late on Saturday afternoon. The decision to stop the plane carrying Cavusoglu from landing was taken on public order grounds.
The call by the Turkish authorities for a mass demonstration is a threat to public order and safety, the Dutch foreign affairs ministry said in a statement.
‘The Netherlands was in talks with the Turkish authorities about an acceptable solution to the visit,’ the statement said. Talks were ongoing about whether the meeting could take place in a smaller, closed environment such as a Turkish consulate or the embassy.
‘But before those talks could be completed, the Turkish authorities made a public threat about sanctions. That made the search for a reasonable solution impossible,’ the statement said. The ministry said that many Dutch Turkish have voting rights in Turkey and that the government has no objection to information meetings. ‘But these meetings cannot contribute to the tensions in our society,’ the statement said.
Cavusoglu hopes to win support for a yes vote in the Turkish referendum on amending the constitution to concentrate more power with president Tayyip Erdogan.
Prime minister Mark Rutte has said the visit, planned for just four days before the Dutch general election, is ‘undesirable’.
The timing is inopportune, given that much of the election campaign revolves around maintaining the Dutch identity. It would also be playing into the hands of Geert Wilders, who held a short demonstration for the press in front of the Turkish embassy on Wednesday, Dutch commentators said.