Dutch diplomatic row with Turkey: what the Dutch papers say

Turkish ministers were refused entry into the country this weekend to address political rallies in the run up to the Turkish referendum which will give more power to president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Dutch papers waver between praise and regret for the actions of the Dutch government.

‘A violent collision between Turkish pride and Dutch determination’ the NRC calls the diplomatic row between Turkey and the Netherlands in its editorial.

‘The motives for refusing the Turkish ministers were perhaps understandable enough but it was not a wise move. A refusal is an infringement of the right to free speech, which is exactly what Europe is laying at Turkey’s doorstep,’ the paper writes.

Populists

‘Where Germany chose to calm the waters by giving minister Cavosoglu a limited podium at the Turkish consulate in Hamburg but the Dutch fell for the notorious Turkish provocation. (..) The escalation on the Dutch side of the conflict is everything to do with the elections on Wednesday. The fear that the populist parties would capitalise on any ‘bending-for-the-Turks’ is what made cool decision making make way for short-sighted, hot-headed indignation.’

The Telegraaf, whose headline on Monday reads ‘WE are boss here’, is full of belligerent praise for the government’s stance which it describes as ‘justified’ and ‘principled’. ‘’Sultan’ Erdogan has clearly lost his way. Let Turkey apologise for the scandalous insults and interference in our country,’ the paper writes.

‘It is better to act from strength. It’s the only language the Turks understand. We must start by cancelling the association treaty, as proposed by CDA leader Buma. Prime minister Rutte wants to de-escalate and have a friendly meeting. But the long arm of Ankara has to be hacked off. The integration of Turks is hindered by continuous Turkish interference. (..). This has to stop,’ the Telegraaf concludes.

Political damage

The Volkskrant did not run an editorial on the conflict but Clingendael expert Adriaan Schout is quoted as saying that ‘the political damage of this conflict will be on the Dutch side’.

According to Schouten nationalist feelings among Turks in the Netherlands will be fuelled by the events. ‘Turkey will benefit because it means votes in the referendum but it will stand in the way of integration, which is what the Dutch government wants.’

Trouw’s political columnist Stevo Akkerman says the government should have played it ‘straight’. ‘Not because the Turkish government deserves it but because we deserve it. If the Netherlands is such a proud country, as prime minister Rutte told his colleague Yildirim on Saturday night, let it be proud of its constitutional rights. Let’s value our constitution so much that even anti-democratic forces – which we have in this country as well – are accorded those rights,’ Akkerman writes.


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