NATO chief calls for calm in Turkey-Netherlands dispute

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg gestures as he addresses a press conference following the NATO Defence Ministers' meeting at NATO headquarter in Brussels, on February 16, 2017. NATO will step up naval war games and surveillance in the Black Sea to complement its increased land and air force presence near a more assertive Russia, the alliance said on February 16. Stoltenberg insisted the decision taken by alliance defence ministers in Brussels was not designed to be a provocation at a time of heightened tensions with Russia, which annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. / AFP PHOTO / THIERRY CHARLIER

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has called on both Turkey and the Netherlands to remain calm in the wake of the eruption of a crisis between the two countries due to the Netherlands’ refusal to allow two Turkish ministers to hold campaign rallies there.

Robust debate is at the heart of our democracies but so is also mutual respect,” Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels on Monday in response to a question about the tension between Ankara and The Hague.

Therefore I will encourage all allies to show mutual respect, to be calm and to have a measured approach, to contribute to de-escalate the tensions and defuse tensions and de-escalate the situation.”

NATO member states should now concentrate more on questions that unite them than on questions that divide them, he added.

Stoltenberg also said NATO’s presence in Turkey was good for Turkey but also good for Europe and the rest of the alliance.

A crisis erupted between Turkey and the Netherlands when The Hague cancelled the flight clearance for Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu’s airplane on Saturday shortly after Çavuşoğlu warned that Turkey would impose “harsh sanctions” on Holland if it were to take such a step.

Çavuşoğlu was scheduled to fly to Rotterdam for a campaign rally.

The crisis reached new heights when Turkish Minister of Family and Social Policy Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya was expelled from the Netherlands on Saturday night after she insisted on going to the residence of the Turkish Consulate General in Rotterdam to make a campaign speech.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan denounced the Netherlands as “Nazi remnants and fascists” after the Dutch government withdrew permission for Çavuşoğlu’s plane to land on Saturday.

Turkey has issued two diplomatic notes to the Netherlands and also demanded a written apology since the crisis erupted, while Turkish government officials are talking about imposing sanctions on the country.

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