The Dutch government is looking at legal options to stop Turkish politicians coming to the Netherlands to win support among ethnic Turks for legislation giving greater powers to president Tayyip Erdogan.
Foreign minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu is planning to hold a rally in Rotterdam on March 11 to win support for a yes vote in the Turkish referendum on amending the constitution, Dutch media said on Saturday.
Prime minister Mark Rutte has said the visit, planned for just four days before the Dutch general election, is ‘undesirable’. ‘We are not going to cooperate,’ Rutte said. ‘Dutch public spaces are not the place for other country’s political campaigns.’
However Cavusoglu told the Anadolu press agency that the Netherlands cannot stop him. ‘We go where we want to meet our citizens,’ he is quoted as saying.
‘Where is the democracy and freedom of speech you say you want to teach us about,’ he said. ‘And what about freedom of association?’
Deputy prime minister Lodewijk Asscher told a radio programme that the cabinet is looking at potential legal steps to prevent Turkish politicians coming to the Netherlands to campaign. The Turkish referendum is set to take place on April 16.
According to broadcaster NOS, Rutte has held talks with the counter-terrorism tzar Dick Schoof and Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb about the pending visit.
Legal experts say that the government has few options but that Aboutaleb can ban the meeting on public order grounds.
Three German towns have cancelled pro-referendum rallies planned by different Turkish ministers.