Erdoğan threatens to revoke clearance for Dutch planes after row over FM visit

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan addresses supporters during a rally in İstanbul on March 11, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has threatened to refuse Dutch aircraft the right to land in Turkey after the Netherlands on Saturday canceled the flight clearance for Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu’s airplane shortly after Çavuşoğlu warned that Turkey would impose “harsh sanctions” on Holland if it takes such a step.

“Don’t allow our foreign minister’s plane to go there as much as you want — let’s see how your planes will come to Turkey from now on. I am talking about diplomacy here, I am not talking about citizens’ travel. That is another issue, and we will assess that later on,” Erdoğan said during a speech in İstanbul’s Bağcılar district.

Çavuşoğlu was scheduled to fly to Rotterdam on Saturday for a campaign rally, but the flight clearance for his airplane was canceled just hours before his flight, private broadcaster CNNTürk reported on Saturday.

Reuters quoted a Dutch official as saying that Turkey’s “sanctions threat had made [the] search for [a] reasonable solution impossible.”

Erdoğan also accused the Netherlands of having no idea about politics or international diplomacy.

“They are so timid, they are so cowardly. They are Nazi remnants, they are fascists,” said Erdoğan.

In another controversial speech last week, Erdoğan also accused Germany of employing practices similar to those of the Nazi era by refusing to allow two Turkish ministers to deliver speeches in the country in support of a constitutional reform package that will be put to a public vote in April.

Turkey’s relations with Germany, Austria and the Netherlands have been strained over these countries’ refusal to allow Turkish government officials to hold rallies there ahead of the public referendum in Turkey in April.

Turkey will hold a referendum on April 16 on a constitutional reform package which will introduce an executive presidency in the country if approved.

Germany, Austria and the Netherlands have canceled scheduled events to be attended by Turkish ministers in their own countries usually out of security concerns.

A large number of Turkish citizens or people of Turkish origin live in these countries, and Turkish citizens living abroad have the right to vote in elections and referenda.

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