Dutch-Turkish Crisis: Erdogan Calls for Sanctions Against 'Banana Republic' Netherlands

As a row over Ankara's political campaigning abroad escalates, Turkey's foreign minister describes the European country as the 'capital of fascism.'

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures as he speaks in Istanbul on March 12, 2017.
OZAN KOSE/AFP

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday the Netherlands should face sanctions for barring Turkish ministers from speaking in Rotterdam and said the country was acting like a "banana republic," fueling a diplomatic meltdown between the two NATO allies.

Erdogan is looking to the large number of Turks living in Europe, especially in Germany and the Netherlands, to help secure victory next month in a referendum that would give the presidency sweeping new powers.

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In a speech in France, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu described the Netherlands as the "capital of fascism" as it joined other European countries in stopping Turkish politicians holding rallies, due to fears that tensions in Turkey might spill over into their expatriate communities. 

The Dutch government barred Cavusoglu from flying to Rotterdam on Saturday and later stopped Turkish Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya from entering the Turkish consulate there, before escorting her out of the country to Germany. 

Dutch police used dogs and water cannon on Sunday to disperse hundreds of protesters waving Turkish flags outside the consulate in Rotterdam. Some threw bottles and stones and several demonstrators were beaten by police with batons, a Reuters witness said. Mounted police officers charged the crowd. 

The Dutch government said the visits were undesirable and that it would not cooperate in their campaigning. 

"I call on all international organisations in Europe and elsewhere to impose sanctions on the Netherlands," Erdogan said, after Turkey's prime minister said earlier that Turkey would retaliate in the "harshest ways," without specifying how. 

"Has Europe said anything? No. Why? Because they don't bite each other. The Netherlands are acting like a banana republic," Erdogan said in a speech in Kocaeli province, near Istanbul. 

The diplomatic row comes in the run-up to the Dutch election on March 15 in which the mainstream parties are under strong pressure from the Party for Freedom (PVV), lead by the far-right politician Geert Wilders. 

Experts said it was too early to tell how events in Rotterdam might affect the election. "If there is any impact, however, it is likely that Geert Wilders and his PVV Party will profit most," an expert at the Netherlands' Leiden University said.