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Minister says prepared to die in Netherlands, returned upon Erdoğan’s call

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Turkish Minister of Family and Social Policy Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya, who was expelled from the Netherlands on Saturday night after she insisted on going to the residence of the Turkish Consulate General in Rotterdam, has said she would not have left and would even have died there if President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had not told her to return home.

Kaya was going to deliver a campaign speech to Turkish expatriates in Rotterdam for an upcoming referendum in Turkey although her program had previously been cancelled by Dutch authorities.

Speaking to a group of Turks in New York on Monday where she travelled as part of her party’s referendum campaign, Kaya said: “If our esteemed president had not called me from Ankara and said, ‘You can return now,’ I would not have left and would have died there. You can be sure about this. Sometimes, the state, the nation, come before everything else.”

The minister, who was declared persona non grata and expelled at the German border, said she was made to wait next to a car for seven hours in Rotterdam.

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 that will introduce an executive presidency in the country if approved.

Germany, Austria and the Netherlands have canceled scheduled events to be participated in by Turkish ministers, 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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