Ankara – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan escalated on Tuesday the tone against the Netherlands on the eve of Wednesday’s Dutch election, which far-right parties have a high chance of winning.
During his campaign to garner votes for the constitutional referendum, Erdogan tackled the sensitive issue of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre when a Dutch battalion of UN peacekeepers failed to protect civilians from Bosnian Serb forces.
“We know the Netherlands and the Dutch from the Srebrenica massacre,” he said. “We know how they are spineless and ignoble as they massacred 8,000 Bosnians.”
Immediately following Erdogan’s statements, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the Turkish president’s comments were a “hateful falsification of history.”
“We are not going to reduce ourselves to his level,” Rutte said. “Turkey continues to shout ever louder, directed now at Germany, as well as the Netherlands, but there must come a moment when we have talks.”
A rift of diplomatic relations between Ankara and Amsterdam emerged last week after Dutch authorities cancelled Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s flight permit and blocked Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya from entering the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam by land.
Addressing an audience in Ankara, Erdogan said earlier: “Nobody should try to give us lessons in civilization. Their history is dark, but ours is clean.”
The Turkish president insisted that his country would not be satisfied to just accept an apology from the Dutch authorities, but instead said the Netherlands should be punished for its behavior against the Turkish ministers and citizens.
The Turkish government had announced that Ankara has suspended high-level diplomatic ties with the Netherlands and the Dutch ambassador to Turkey will not be allowed to return from leave, deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said Monday.
For his part, Turkish Customs and Trade Minister Bulent Tufenkci said Tuesday his country was currently satisfied to only impose “political and legal sanctions” against the Netherlands, but the minister brought up the possibility of economic sanctions in the upcoming period.