Turkey's president describes Dutch as 'Nazi remnants' amid rally row

Credit: AP

A diplomatic row over a cancelled Turkish rally in the Netherlands has escalated after Turkey's president branded the Dutch "Nazi remnants" and "fascists".

Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the inflammatory comments after permission for his foreign minister's plane to land in the Netherlands was withdrawn.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was originally scheduled to attend the to drum up support for the president's plans for extended powers, which are due to be put to a referendum next month.

But the rally was banned by Rotterdam city authorities.

Turkey's President branded the Dutch as 'Nazi remnants' as he addressed supporters in Istanbul. Credit: PA

Addressing a rally in Istanbul on Saturday, Mr Erdogan said of the Dutch: "They do not know politics or international diplomacy.

"You can stop our foreign minister's plane all you want, let's see how your planes will come to Turkey from now on.

  • Dutch PM: Erdogan's remarks "way out of line"

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said it was important to retain good relations with Turkey. Credit: AP

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he understood Turkey's anger, but Mr Erdogan's remarks were "crazy and "way out of line".

Mr Rutte also insisted that it was important to keep good relations with Turkey.

"We will do everything to keep the relations with Turkey as good as possible, as strong as possible," Mr Rutte said.

Riot police outside The Netherlands' Consulate in Istanbul. Credit: AP

Just hours later, Turkey's Family Affairs Minister was blocked by Dutch police from entering the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam.

Fatma Betual Sayan had been in Germany on Saturday, but travelled to The Netherlands by road.

She was later detained and declared an "undesirable alien" by the Dutch authorities, and they said she would be given an escort to the German border.

Around 100 people marched in Istanbul on Saturday afternoon to protest against The Netherland's decision.

The demonstrators laid a black wreath in front of the Dutch Consulate amid a heavy police presence.

The pro-government group said in a statement: "Today we see the Dutch government making decisions that hurt the Turkish nation."

Emphasising freedom of assembly and expression, the group continued: "Netherlands has made big mistakes towards Turkey's ministers in terms of democratic rights and freedoms."

The group chanted "God is Great" and other slogans before dispersing.

Supporters of President Erdogan walk to the Dutch consulate in Istanbul. Credit: AP

In response, Turkish authorities sealed off the Dutch embassy and consulate, and closed off the residences of the Dutch ambassador, charge d'affaires and consul general as tensions between the two countries escalated.

Turkey's Foreign Ministry also said it does not want the Dutch ambassador to the country, who is on leave, to return to Ankara "for some time".

The Netherlands and Turkey are NATO allies and, through the European Union, it also has a major agreement with Ankara on migration flows.

The Dutch government has said it does not object to meetings in the Netherlands to give information about the Turkish referendum "but these meetings should not add to tensions in our society".

A statement said: "Everybody who wants to organise a meeting must adhere to instructions from authorities so that public order and security can be guaranteed."

The Turkish government "does not want to respect the rules in this matter," it added.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. Credit: AP

Earlier, in an interview with private broadcaster CNN Turk, Mr Cavusogluhad said he would fly to Rotterdam anyway.

He said the Dutch government's decision to deny his plane landing permission "is a scandal in every way and cannot be accepted."

Cavusoglu, speaking at Istanbul's airport, he said: "So they cancelled it due to security concerns, what, so is the minister a terrorist?"

The minister added: "We will give them the response they deserve."

He had also warned that Turkey would impose heavy sanctions if his visit were blocked.

Several other European cities including Germany also banned similar meetings to be attended by Turkish officials.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of Turkey's main opposition party, also criticised the Dutch decision, saying: "This is not correct."

"Those who defend democracy would not do such things. You'll call yourself a democrat and then not permit the flight of a minister of the Turkish Republic?"