Dutch withdraw ambassador to Turkey pausing efforts to normalise ties

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File photo taken on November 24, 2017 Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Halbe Zijlstra as he arrives for an ​EU Eastern Partnership summit with six eastern partner countries at the European Council in Brussels. (AFP)

Ties between Turkey and the Netherlands, that had deteriorated after Dutch officials barred Turkish ministers from meeting with its diaspora in Rotterdam. A bid to normalise relations failed despite recent talks.

The Netherlands announced Monday that it was withdrawing its ambassador from Turkey, and will refuse to allow Ankara to post one in the country as diplomatic ties plunged to new lows.

Relations have deteriorated in the past 10 months, after Dutch officials barred Turkish ministers from attending a rally in Rotterdam on the eve of general elections in the Netherlands.

Despite recent talks between the two countries, “we have not been able to agree on the way normalisation should take place,” Foreign Minister Halbe Zijlstra said in a statement.

The Dutch government has therefore “decided to officially withdraw the Netherlands’ ambassador in Ankara, who has not had access to Turkey since March 2017,” the foreign ministry added in the statement.

“As long as the Netherlands has no ambassador to Turkey, the Netherlands will also not issue permission for a new Turkish ambassador to take up duties in the Netherlands.”

Dutch-Turkish relations have spiralled to an all-time low after the Netherlands expelled Turkey’s Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kayar and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in March.

Ankara accused the Dutch government of taking anti-Turkey and Islamophobic measures to help itself win the country’s general elections.

Kaya had defied a Dutch government ban on attending a campaign rally of Dutch-Turkish citizens in favour of last April’s referendum that aimed to change the governing system from parliamentary to the presidential one.

Protests erupted in Rotterdam as she was escorted out of the country without being able to address the rally.

Riot police moved in to break up demonstrations using dogs, horses and water cannon.

Turkish officials demanded an apology for the minister’s treatment from Prime Minister Mark Rutte and blocked the Dutch ambassador, who had been abroad at the time, from returning to Turkey.

The Netherlands is home to some 400,000 people of Turkish origin, and the two countries have had diplomatic relations for some four centuries.

Source: AFP
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