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EU tells Turkey to refrain from escalating diplomatic row with the NL

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A diplomatic crisis between Turkey and several EU member states has deepened as the bloc warned Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to avoid inflammatory language and Ankara said it could impose sanctions on the Netherlands.

In a fast-escalating row over Turkish ministers being blocked from holding rallies abroad before a referendum next month on plans to expand Erdoğan’s powers, the latest developments followed the Turkish president twice this weekend accusing the Dutch government of acting like Nazis.

Apparently referring to Erdoğan’s comments, the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, and enlargement commissioner, Johannes Hahn, on Monday demanded Turkey “refrain from excessive statements and actions”.

It was “essential to avoid further escalation and find ways to calm down the situation,” the two said in a joint statement. Jens Stoltenberg, Nato’s secretary general, also urged all concerned to “show mutual respect and be calm”.



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I don't know where to start with this mess... 



Turkey bans Dutch ambassador, suspends diplomatic flights and high-level govt meetings - Deputy PM




Ankara has banned the Dutch ambassador from entering Turkey, halted diplomatic flights and suspended high-level government meetings, Numan Kurtulmus, the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister, has said.

The Dutch ambassador Cornelis Van Rij is currently on leave from returning to the country.

In a reciprocal measure following the barring of Turkish politicians from giving speeches in the Netherlands, Dutch ministers are now also barred from entering Turkey.All diplomatic flights between the two nations have been suspended. 

"We are doing exactly what they did to us. We are not allowing planes carrying Dutch diplomats or envoys from landing in Turkey or using our airspace," Kurtulmus said. "Those creating this crisis are responsible for fixing it."

Kurtulmus said that his government further recommends that Parliament revokes an official friendship agreement between Turkey and the Netherlands.

Kurtulmus added that the actions of Netherlands, which prevented the Turkish foreign minister from landing in the country and mistreating the country’s family minister, were a sign of the collapse of Europe.



Erdogan calls Merkel a ‘terrorist supporter,’ says Turkey will go to ECHR over Netherlands rally row




Turkey will challenge the Netherlands in the European Court of Human Rights over its refusal to allow Turkish officials to enter the country and deliver campaign speeches, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned.

In an interview with A Haber television following a cabinet meeting in Ankara on Monday evening, the Turkish leader also promised to deploy “whatever sanctions we have” and to “hold the Netherlands accountable,” as quoted by Reuters.

Erdogan also repeated an earlier charge, accusing Germany, another country where speeches by Turkish politicians were canceled, of “mercilessly” supporting terrorism.

"Mrs Merkel, why are you hiding terrorists in your country?... Why are you not doing anything?" said Erdogan, adding that 4,500 dossiers sent by Ankara of mostly Kurdish terror suspects have not resulted in extraditions. "Mrs Merkel, you are supporting terrorists."

When told of Erdogan's comments, Merkel immediately branded them "absurd."

The Turkish leader had previously said the German consulate in Istanbul was “aiding and abetting” terrorism, when it harbored the German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel for a month, before handing him over to the authorities. Yucel has been charged with terrorist activities and incitement, partly for covering the Kurdish PKK separatists, coinciding with vociferous protests from the German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

But the row over Yucel, has been superseded by the escalating diplomatic spat, in which local and national authorities throughout Europe have denied platforms for stump speeches by Turkish politicians, aimed at persuading expats – 5.5 million Turks live abroad – to vote in favor of expanding the president's executive powers in April’s constitutional referendum.

"Nazism, we can call this Neo-Nazism. A new Nazism tendency," Erdogan told the interviewers on Monday, using a term that has repeatedly been used by Ankara in the past week, despite outrage in Europe.

Germany, which is home to 1.5 million Turkish voters, cited safety concerns when individual towns revoked public speech permits. Sweden and Austria have done likewise, also adding that campaigning around such a controversial referendum could inflame tensions between Kurds and ethnic Turks in their respective countries.

The Netherlands, which is facing its own parliamentary election on Wednesday, has been the most proactive in their refusals, withdrawing a landing permit for Turkey’s foreign minister last week, and escorting another minister out of the country, denying her entry to the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam.



German MPs call for troop withdrawal from Turkish airbase amid rally row




Amid a row with Turkey over its presidential powers referendum, some German MPs are calling for the withdrawal of troops deployed at Incirlik airbase. Germany is flying reconnaissance sorties from the Turkish base as part of the US-led anti-Islamic State coalition.

Concerns over the presence of German airmen at the base, which is located in southern Turkey close to Syria, came from lawmakers of both the ruling coalition and the opposition. Florian Hahn, spokesman for security and foreign policy of the Christian Social Union (CSU), said the Germans soldiers and officers may become pawns in Turkish power games.

“Amid this heated atmosphere, it has become increasingly uncertain that the Turkish government can and will guarantee the protection of our soldiers in Incirlik,” he told Germany’s Bild am Sonntag newspaper. He called on the government to stop investing in the infrastructure of the airbase and transfer the Tornados stationed there elsewhere. 

The CSU is the Bavaria-based sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, while similar concerns came from the Left Party, the main opposition force in Germany.

“In light of the current developments in Turkey, it is overdue that we withdraw our Tornado [jets] and Bundeswehr soldiers, as well as halting the supply of weapons to Turkey immediately,” argued Left leader Sahra Wagenknecht, as cited by Deutsche Welle.

The Green Party's Cem Ozdemir, an ethnic Turk and long-time critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said withdrawing troops from Turkey would send a clear message to Ankara, which is, according to him, “in the process of losing the last remnants of respect towards Europe.”

Several NATO allies have troops stationed at Incirlik, with Germany maintaining a force of some 240. They are ensuring continued flights of the German Tornado aircraft for reconnaissance missions in Syria and Iraq, part of Berlin’s contribution in the US-led coalition fighting terrorist group Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

Germany is considering multimillion-dollar investment into Incirlik for the long-term deployment of its troops there. Turkey is set to benefit from the money, both because its base would grow and because local contractors would be involved in the renovation.

Supporters of the idea of pulling out the Tornados from Turkey say they could be stationed in Greece, Cyprus or Jordan and still contribute to the anti-IS campaign. They also say Ankara already played the Incirlik card last year, when it prevented German MPs from visiting the base amid a row over Berlin’s formal recognition of the mass killings of Armenians under Ottoman Empire rule as genocide.

The obstruction was apparently meant to express Turkey’s irritation with the German parliament after it passed the genocide resolution. In Germany, the parliament has strong oversight powers over the military, which is meant to prevent executive abuse and is rooted in the legacy of Nazi-era atrocities. Lawmakers have to sign off on any foreign deployment of German troops and defense spending in other nations.

So far, the German government has brushed aside the calls to withdraw from Turkey, with Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere saying that German soldiers were there to “protect NATO interests, and therefore our interests.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday spoke along the same lines and suggested that Turkey and other allies should focus on things that unite them rather than on those which divide them.

Tensions between Germany and Turkey have escalated as Ankara prepares for a referendum in April, which seeks to give more powers to the office of the president. The Turkish government is sponsoring a series of rallies of Turkish citizens living in Europe, campaigning for their votes in the plebiscite. In several European nations, including Germany, this effort has been undermined by the cancelation of rallies and bans on the public appearance of Turkish officials at campaign events.





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