Erdogan Calls Netherlands 'Fascists' After Minister's Plane Denied Permission to Land

The Dutch government withdrew permission for the foreign minister to touch down in Rotterdam. He had previously been barred from addressing a rally in the city.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to the media after his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, March 10, 2017.
Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

The Dutch government on Saturday withdrew landing permission for the Turkish foreign minister's aircraft, drawing the ire of the Turkish president and escalating a diplomatic dispute between the two NATO allies over campaigning for a Turkish referendum on constitutional reform.

The Dutch government said in a statement it had withdrawn the permission because of "risks to public order and security" caused by the proposed visit of Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to Rotterdam.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, referring to the Netherlands as 'fascists,' promised retaliation against Dutch diplomatic flights.

"You can stop our foreign minister's plane all you want, let's see how your planes will come to Turkey from now on," Erdogan said at a rally in Istanbul.

"They do not know politics or international diplomacy," said Erdogan and added, "these Nazi remnants, they are fascists," as the crowds booed.

"It's a crazy remark of course," Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told journalists in response during campaigning for elections on March 15. "I understand they're angry, but this of course was way out of line."

Earlier Saturday, in an interview with private broadcaster CNN Turk, Cavusoglu said: "If the Netherlands cancels my flight permit, our sanctions to the Netherlands would be heavy."

He also repeated the government's charges that bans on rallies are "fascist practices."

Cavusoglu said that the German and Dutch bans on campaigns for a "yes" vote in the April 16 referendum on constitutional changes means that Europe is "taking a side for a 'no' vote." The constitutional changes would give the president more powers.

The Dutch government said it had been searching with Turkish authorities for an "acceptable solution" to Cavusoglu's plan to campaign in the Netherlands, but "before these talks were completed, Turkish authorities publicly threatened sanctions. That makes the search for a reasonable solution impossible."

The diplomatic row comes just days before the Netherlands goes to the polls in a March 15 election for the lower house of Parliament. The campaign has been dominated by issues of identity, with anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders set to make strong gains.

Ahead of Saturday's decision, Wilders had accused the government of a weak response to Turkish plans to send ministers to the Netherlands to campaign.

The Dutch government said it does not object to meetings in the Netherlands to give information about the Turkish referendum, "but these meetings should not add to tensions in our society and everybody who wants to organize a meeting must adhere to instructions from authorities so that public order and security can be guaranteed."

It said the Turkish government "does not want to respect the rules in this matter."

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan branded the Netherlands "Nazi remnants, fascists" on Saturday after the Dutch government withdrew permission for his Foreign Minister to land there.

The Dutch government on Saturday withdrew landing permission for the Turkish foreign minister's aircraft, escalating a diplomatic dispute between the two NATO allies over campaigning for a Turkish referendum on constitutional reform.

The Dutch government said in a statement it had withdrawn the permission because of "risks to public order and security" caused by the proposed visit of Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to Rotterdam.

Earlier Saturday, in an interview with private broadcaster CNN Turk, Cavusoglu said: "If the Netherlands cancels my flight permit, our sanctions to the Netherlands would be heavy."

He also repeated the government's charges that bans on rallies are "fascist practices."

Cavusoglu said that the German and Dutch bans on campaigns for a "yes" vote in the April 16 referendum on constitutional changes means that Europe is "taking a side for a 'no' vote." The constitutional changes would give Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan more powers.

The Dutch government said it was searching with Turkish authorities for an "acceptable solution" to Cavusoglu's plan to campaign in the Netherlands, but "before these talks were completed, Turkish authorities publicly threatened sanctions. That makes the search for a reasonable solution impossible."

The diplomatic row comes just days before the Netherlands goes to the polls in a March 15 election for the lower house of Parliament. The campaign has been dominated by issues of identity, with anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders set to make strong gains.

Ahead of Saturday's decision, Wilders had accused the government of a weak response to Turkish plans to send ministers to the Netherlands to campaign.

The Dutch government said it does not object to meetings in the Netherlands to give information about the Turkish referendum, "but these meetings should not add to tensions in our society and everybody who wants to organize a meeting must adhere to instructions from authorities so that public order and security can be guaranteed."

It said the Turkish government "does not want to respect the rules in this matter."