Tuesday 20 August 2019

Dutch foreign minister talks to Turkey after racism claim row

Netherlands turkeyDutch foreign minister Bert Koenders had a 30-minute phone conversation with his Turkish counterpart about claims that the Netherlands discriminates against Dutch Turkish citizens on Wednesday night.

News agency ANP reports that Koenders expressed the Netherlands’ grave concern about the reports in a Turkish newspaper, and widely reported in the Dutch press.

‘Direct interference by a foreign power in a democratic debate in the Netherlands is inappropriate,’ Koenders is quoted as saying, pointing to the need for open dialogue about complicated subjects such as integration.

Distance

According to ANP, Koenders said Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu had distanced himself from the criticism. ‘Çavuşoğlu underlined the importance of the integration of Turkish Dutch nationals and the importance of learning the language,’ Koenders is quoted as saying. ‘We have decided to meet and discuss our mutual concerns in the near future.’

The racism claims were made in a letter which was reportedly sent by the Turkish foreign ministry to the Dutch parliament and was quoted in Turkish newspaper Hürriyet.

In the letter, the minister says the initiatives and statements made by the Dutch government could damage bilateral relations between the two countries.

The letter follows the publication of a Dutch government report which paints a negative picture of Turkish organisations in the Netherlands, the Telegraaf said on Wednesday.

That report led social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher to call for close monitoring of four Turkish organisations in the Netherlands which he said may be hindering integration.

Jihadis

In addition, Turkey is said to be angry about a report which said 80% of Turkish youngsters in the Netherlands support jihadist movements. That report has since been heavily criticised by experts.

According to Hürriyet, the letter states that ‘aggressive and racist accusations against Turks who are part of Dutch society and against a friendly ally are unacceptable’. ‘We do not understand why these racist attacks… have recently appeared on the agenda.’

Asscher used Twitter to brand the comments, if accurate, as ‘uninformed, inaccurate and inappropriate.’ ‘Integration policy is focused on participation and involvement, and that means everyone in the Netherlands,’ the minister said.

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