STRUGGLING: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan applauds following a rally in Istanbul on Sunday.  Mr Erdogan said at the rally, in reference to the Dutch situation:
STRUGGLING: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan applauds following a rally in Istanbul on Sunday. Mr Erdogan said at the rally, in reference to the Dutch situation: "Nazism is alive in the West.” AP Photo

Turkey promises retaliation against Netherlands

RIOT police using mounted charges and water cannons to disperse protesters in Rotterdam; a Turkish minister expelled for trying to enter her consulate in the city; Ankara expressing outrage and threatening severe retaliation. The diplomatic crisis between the Netherlands and the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan that has blown up so suddenly, continues to escalate swiftly.

In Ankara, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim reiterated that "strong counter- measures” will be taken. The homes of the Dutch ambassador and senior diplomats were sealed off in what was described as security measures.

The Netherlands Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, condemned Turkey's actions as "bizarre, irresponsible and unacceptable”.

The confrontation started with the Dutch government's refusal to allow Turkish foreign minister Mevlt Cavusoglu in to address a rally in support of President Erdogan in Turkey's referendum next month.

However, Turkey's Family Affairs Minister, Fatma Betl Sayan Kaya, arrived unannounced and was expelled amid recriminations and accusations.

The referendum is about giving sweeping new powers to Mr Erdogan, a process that started in the aftermath of last year's attempted coup. The Opposition is effectively hamstrung with MPs, journalists and activists among those detained.

Leader of the largest opposition party Kemal Kilicdaroglu, said: "This is definitely not going to be a fair referendum. We know that the pro-Erdogan media will have a broadcasting policy that completely ignores the Opposition.”

But the outcome remains uncertain and the President's camp claims there is a campaign to deny him victory with a "foreign hand” playing a part - a supposed threat by the followers of Fethullah Gulen, the exiled cleric living in the US.

There are 5.5 million Turks living outside the country and the President needs their vote to make sure he wins. Attempts by supporters to hold rallies have been blocked by authorities in some western European countries, mainly citing security reasons. This has led to Mr Erdogan accusing Germany of "reverting to fascism” and the Dutch to "Nazi remnants”.

In Hamburg last week, Mr Cavusoglu said the German government was "applying systematic unacceptable pressure on our citizens”.

He was speaking at the home of the consul-general after a rally on the referendum was blocked.

On Sunday, in response to the Dutch measures he said: "What steps they take, we will take 10 times more.”

Turkey is not the only one guided in this to a large extent by domestic considerations.

Elections are due in the Netherlands, France and Germany and nationalist parties are expected to do well. Taking a tough stance against Muslim Turkey may be seen as politically strategic against the right-wing advance.

Mr Rutte has hardened his language about immigrants and refugees with elections tomorrow.

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