Turkish President Erdogan accuses even the Netherlands of "Nazism" for refusing entry to two ministers. Other European countries, such as Austria, Switzerland, Sweden and Denmark, cancel meetings with the Turks. Germany and the Netherlands fear the growth of "populism" in the upcoming elections. Erdogan takes advantage of the incidents to garner a more powerful nationalism.
Istanbul (AsiaNews) - The crisis is mounting between Turkey and some European countries, notably the Netherlands and Germany, accused of "Nazism" by President Recep Tayyep Erdogan for not allowing Turkish personalities hold rallies in in European cities.
The rallies were to publicize the "yes" vote in favor of the referendum to be held in Turkey on April 16, with which the country could move from a parliamentary to a presidential republic, increasing Erdogan’s powers.
The rallies were to polarize the Turkish electorate abroad, about 1.4 million in Germany; almost 400 thousand in the Netherlands. Last week some German cities (Cologne, Gaggenau) canceled meetings set to be attended by the Minister of Economic Affairs Nihat Zeybekci and Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag.
Two days ago, the Turkish minister of family, Fatma Betül Kaya Sayan, was practically expelled from the Netherlands, who also refused a visit to the head of Turkish diplomacy, Mevlut Cavusoglu.
Yesterday Erdogan railed against "Nazism and Fascism" in The Hague and called the Netherlands a "banana republic" and accused the West of "Islamophobia". He also criticized the excessive force used by the police to disperse a thousand pro-Erdogan protesters massed in front of the consulate in Rotterdam to demand the arrival of Turkish ministers. The Dutch police used vans, water cannons, horses and even a brigade of dogs. In retaliation, protesters replaced the Dutch with the Turkish flag on the flagpole at the Netherlands Consulate in Istanbul for a short time.
The Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has called the Erdogan’s words "unacceptable", but also asked that both sides lower their tones. Yesterday, in front of thousands of supporters, Erdogan said. "You have not paid the price to speak about restoring relations with Turkey. You still have to pay the price for your insult. "
The tension spread to other European countries: Cavusoglu had to attend a meeting in Zurich (Switzerland), but the meeting was canceled after the hotel's refusal to host it. Other rallies were canceled in Austria and Sweden. Finally, the Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen has asked his Turkish counterpart Binali Yildirim to postpone a visit to Denmark, scheduled for the end of March.
The current crisis hides the embarrassment of European diplomacy towards this decreasing democracy in Turkey, where on the back of an alleged "coup" state, tens of thousands of personalities were arrested - including academics, judges, journalists, parliamentarians - suspected of being supporters of Feithullah Guelen, considered "the mastermind" of the putsch, or of having links with "terrorism."
At the same time, both Germany and the Netherlands are preparing for political elections and there is a fear that the pro-Erdogan gatherings will garner support for "populist" parties, critical of the presence of Muslims in Europe.
The tension also seems to facilitate Erdogan and his referendum campaign, which is becoming more nationalistic in tone and full of contempt towards Europe.