Tensions Rise Between Turkey and the Netherlands

By Madeleine Hillyer, International News Editor

Diplomatic tensions between the Netherlands and Turkey have risen in recent weeks culminating in Turkey severing all high-level diplomatic relations with The Netherlands. The Dutch ambassador was barred from returning to Ankara, after this breakdown of diplomatic relations and Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, referred to the actions of the Dutch government Nazi-like.

The tensions began when Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, was not allowed to enter The Netherlands. Mr. Cavusoglu was planning to attend a rally in The Netherlands to be attended by expat Turks living in the country. Mr. Cavusoglu said he was not given a reason as to why he was not allowed to enter the Netherlands. “Is there any one single Turkish Turk radicalized? They say no. So what is the security problem then? They don’t give me any detail, I am the foreign minister of Turkey. I am not a terrorist. This is just excuse, unfortunately, to hide the real reasons,” as reported by CNN. He further went on to say he believed increased nationalism and islamophobia in the Netherlands was what he believed the cause of his bar to entry.

However, Dutch officials have made it seem likely Mr. Cavusoglu was not allowed entry into the Netherlands because of the ongoing campaign of Turkish ministers going to campaign in favor of a referendum that would expand President Erdogan’s power. Different Turkish officials have been traveling around Europe trying to rally Turks living abroad to vote in favor of the referendum. It is believed that they are doing this due to what they see is an advantage the other side has within the country. It is estimated nearly 400,000 Turkish people are living in The Netherlands now.

This idea is also echoed by Cengiz Candar, a Turkish academic. “Turkish foreign policy today — whatever it is, wherever it is, from Syria all the way to The Netherlands and Germany — is related to the domestic political agenda,” he continued to tell the New York Times, “There is no Turkish foreign policy now. Turkish foreign policy is related to Mr. Erdogan’s referendum campaign.”

Many now fear that this new diplomatic climate will hinder the refugee deal the EU was brokering with Turkey. Turkish officials had agreed to a “one-for-one” deal, in which one migrant would be returned to Turkey for every Syrian refugee camp resident that was living in Turkey that is admitted into an EU country. This would be capped at 72,000 people. After the falling out between The Netherlands and Turkey, Turkish officials have threatened to scrap the deal. As reported by CNN, Turkey’s EU minister said, “Turkey should reconsider the land passage issue again,” after these diplomatic actions and EU’s support of the Netherlands.

Lars Lokke Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark, has now also postponed a meeting with President Erdogan, citing his concerns with their diplomatic principles.


A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, March 21st print edition.

Contact Madeleine at



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