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Europe is at jeopardy during this election year. A year full of electoral appointments which might alter the EU roadmap, in a key moment to decide its future. The first election will be in The Netherlands, next Wednesday, March 15th. Two days before this election, any gesture which could be interpreted by the population as a cession, would have a serious election cost for the Prime Minister Mark Rutte (Liberal Party, VVD), the only candidate who can keep the fight with the populist Geert Wilders. The Dutch parties have shown firmness against the absurd endeavour of the Turkish government to hold a series of rallies in Dutch territory, which, due to security problems between supporters and detractors of the Erdogan´ authoritarian government, the government of the Netherlands had previously denied the authorization. The Dutch government said to have asked Ankara for limiting their plans to a meeting at the Turkish consulate and their response was to threaten with sanctions. The Netherlands ruled out of any understanding and warned that it would not even allow the landing of Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu´ official aircraft. The episode ended with the Turkish Minister of Family and Social Affairs, Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya´ expulsion of Dutch territory.
Rutte has already in the past months shown positions of firmness and even satiety, towards those Turkish sectors which stand out for their insatiable pretensions. For a growing number of Dutch, the limits of tolerance have already been overcome on several occasions. For the Dutch PM, right now there is even more pressure from his constituents on maintaining a calming position with Turkey than the threats and blackmail coming from the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who has himself self-invited to add fuel to the already delicate debate within the Dutch campaign about the national identity and over the coexistence with the immigrants which is taking place.
President Erdogan has caused a serious diplomatic incident by accusing the Dutch of Nazis and fascists. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim also lashed out to the Dutch authorities for the entrance´ veto of the two Turkish ministers to campaign for Erdogan in the referendum to be held in Turkey in April, referendum which main purpose is giving Erdogan almost total power. Yildrim said “there will be heavy retaliation against the Netherlands, as this episode is a major diplomatic scandal.” The Turkish foreign minister has gone further, naming the Dutch authorities´actions “as the same as fascism.” He wrote on his Twitter account, “Fascism has awakened in Holland and has taken over the stage. All true democrats in the world must react to this, intolerable in a free world. The Dutch prime minister has become a spokesman for a dark and racist mentality that led to World War II.” Continuing the escalation, the Turkish European Affairs Minister, Omer Celik, proposes to reconsider the Migration Agreement signed between Turkey and the EU, whereby Turkey keeps migrants out of Europe.
Meanwhile, and taking advantage of the situation, the Dutch populist candidate Wilders has tried to accentuate the tension, demonstrating in front of the Turkish Consulate and asking for the ambassador of Ankara to be expelled ipso facto, due to interference in the Dutch politics. “In these election, the debate is pointing out about the immigrants´ integration and the Dutch national identity. We want the Turkish origin’ Dutch to participate in the elections in Dutch key, and not about Turkish politics. ” For Wilders´ opinion, this crisis with an Islamist government, has come to restore his public prominence, reduced by his refusal to participate in debates and interviews during the election campaign. This crisis according to Wilders, has confirmed to the constituents his anti-Islamist and anti-migratory theories. The fact that thousands of Dutch people of Turkish origin demonstrated in Rotterdam in favour of the president of Turkey rather than in favour of the Dutch sovereignty, has given him the right to say in the end that the 400,000 Dutch-Turkish do not belong to the Dutch society.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte assured that if Ankara insists on escalating the tension, the Netherlands will respond with the appropriate measures: “We are not giving up to blackmail. I spoke eight times over the phone with my Turkish counterpart to find a common dialogue and it was impossible”, lamented Rutte. The Netherlands, invaded by the Third Reich Germany, is an extremely sensitive country about the Second World War and the Holocaust question, which remember with special great pain. This episode is not going to let it go easily.
Most of Mark Rutte’s European counterparts have also decided to show firmness against the current Turkish administration. Denmark joined the solidarity´ front with the Netherlands in the face of Erdogan’s provocations, and announced the suspension of the Turkish Prime Minister’s trip to Copenhagen. According to the Danish head of government, Lars Rasmussen, although Denmark wants to cooperate with Turkey, this is not possible at the moment given his attitude and attacks to Holland. Austria and Switzerland had adopted very similar positions to that of The Netherlands.
Merkel has had a much more appealing stance. So much that she has received serious critics, although according to polls, most the Germans prefer to avoid the frontal collision with Erdogan. In Germany, there are many politicians who also demand the strongest forcefulness for Erdogan. And although there was no reaction on the matter, it seems like in several Dutch sectors, it was displeased that France allowed to the Turkish Foreign Minister to hold a rally in the city of Metz, to have a new tribune to lash out his insults towards The Netherlands. Calling the Dutch ´Nazis Fascists´ will definitely not help Turkey in its aspirations to get the EU to grant visa exemption for its citizens.
Meanwhile, both Wilders in Holland, and Erdogan in Turkey, are trying to get electoral returns from the crisis. Wilders has not benefited greatly from PM Rutte´ position. To Erdogan, it serves to accentuate the nationalistic feeling that of all Turks have to fur of skin, to obtain his desire to become the omnipotent President of Turkey. But after all, it is inevitable that, the situation in Turkey since the continuous auto-authoritarian coup which followed the military attempt, will end up weighing also on the election temperature in the country.
The Netherlands has for centuries been an example of political freedom and civil rights within Europe and for the world, while Turkey under Recep Tayyip Erdogan is gradually becoming an Islamist tyranny, and particularly since the so-called coup, where he has taken advantage in order to carry out an unprecedented purge in the civil, academic, police and media institutions, in the state administration, accusing thousands of people of coup plotters without providing a single proof. Erdogan is accustomed to doing his will in Turkey, but he has not the right to fulfill his wishes in the rest of the world. Erdogan government accusing the Netherlands and Europe, of being fascist and Nazi, it is an infamy and causes shame, embarrassment, opprobrium, disgrace, ignominy, and blush.