Turkey imposes political sanctions on Netherlands over visit crisis

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The Turkish government has announced a series of political sanctions on Monday against the Netherlands over its refusal to allow two Turkish ministers to campaign there, including halting high-level political discussions between the two countries and closing Turkish airspace to Dutch diplomats.

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş, briefing journalists after the weekly Cabinet meeting, said the sanctions would apply until the Netherlands takes steps “to redress” the actions that Ankara sees as a grave insult.

“There is a crisis, and a very deep one. We didn’t create this crisis or bring it to this stage,” Kurtulmuş said. “Those who did have to take steps to redress the situation.”

Other sanctions bar the Dutch ambassador entry back into Turkey and advise Parliament to withdraw from a Dutch-Turkish friendship group.

The crisis between Turkey and the Netherlands erupted when the latter 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 takes 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.

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 a 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.

About 400,000 people with ties to Turkey live in the Netherlands, though it’s not clear how many are eligible to vote.

Turkey is a candidate to join the European Union, although the membership negotiations have made little progress over the past decade. The country has become a vital partner in a deal with the EU to curb the passage of migrants and refugees from Turkey into Europe.

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