The Latest: Turkish prime minister vows strong response

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Posted: Mar 11, 2017 9:07 PM
The Latest: Turkish prime minister vows strong response

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Latest on Dutch barring Turkish foreign minister (all times local):

3:05 p.m.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim says his country will strongly respond to Dutch authorities' "unacceptable treatment" toward Turkish ministers who were prevented from addressing Turkish citizens in the Netherlands.

In a written statement released early on Sunday, Yildirim also urged Turkish nationals living in Europe to remain calm and not fall for provocations. He also asked them to cast their votes in the April 16 referendum saying it would be best response to the European nations.

He said: "There will be a stronger reprisal against the unacceptable treatment toward Turkey and ministers who have diplomatic immunity."

Yildirim added: "Our so-called European friends who speak of democracy, freedom of expression and human rights have failed their class."

2:12 p.m.

Turkey's family affairs minister says Dutch authorities are escorting her to the border with Germany in a manner that "tramples on all democratic and human values."

Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya said through her twitter account early on Sunday that she was being taken to the town of Nijmegen, near the border with Germany, adding that she condemned the Dutch authorities' action in "the name of all of our citizens."

Kaya wrote: "the whole world must take action against this fascist practice! Such a treatment against a woman minister cannot be accepted."

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2:05 a.m.

Rotterdam Ahmed Aboutaleb said early Sunday that the Turkish family affairs minister is being escorted back to the German border from where she came after she tried to reach the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam against the wishes of the Dutch government.

"The minister is on her way to Germany," Aboutaleb said after an extraordinary standoff between a minister from a NATO ally and an overwhelming police force.

"She was called an unwanted foreigner by the government and the rules say you send someone back to the country she came from," he said.

(Corrects name of Rotterdam mayor to Aboutaleb.)

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Hundreds of pro-Turkey protesters scuffled with police as authorities tried to end a demonstration at the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam, where a Turkish minister fruitlessly tried to enter the compound.

At one stage, protesters were throwing bottles and mobbing police vehicles as they moved away from the consulate in central Rotterdam. But soon, police charged on horseback and moved forward with batons wielding.

It was unclear if people were detained or injured.

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1:10 a.m. Sunday

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says he has called the European Union commission's vice-president asking that he urge the Dutch prime minister to put an end to the "disgrace" against Turkish ministers who have been barred from attending rallies.

In a telephone interview with A Haber television, Cavusoglu said he told Frans Timmermans — a former Dutch politician — that the events were "getting out of control."

Cavusoglu said Turkey did not wish to escalate tensions but that Ankara "would take all necessary measures" against the Netherlands.

Foreign Ministry officials said Cavusoglu held three separate conversations with Timmermans and also spoke with the EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

Separately, Cavusoglu told state-run TRT television that European nations were obstructing campaigning for a "yes" vote in an upcoming referendum on expanding President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's power because they feared the emergence of a "stable, free and independent Turkey."

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00:20 a.m. Sunday

The mayor of Rotterdam issued an emergency order late Saturday in an attempt to contain a pro-Turkish demonstration outside the consulate which has turned into a flashpoint of the worsening relations between the Netherlands and Turkey.

Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb said he needed special powers to assure security throughout the center of the city fearing that more people would join the demonstration and there was "serious concern" that riots might ensue.

Under the powers, it is easier for authorities to keep people away from diplomatic compounds like the consulate.

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11:50 p.m.

Dutch authorities told the Minister of Family and Social Policies Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya that she should take "the shortest way to Germany" where she came from as she sought to enter her consulate in Rotterdam.

TV video on the NOS network showed the standoff between the ministerial convoy and the Rotterdam police, which was translated between an officer and the minister. After being told to return with her convoy, Kaya retorted sharply, saying "I will go to the consulate building. That is a building belonging to my country and I am a minister of that country."

She continued that "there is no such international practice. I don't accept that decision, I reject it and I won't return to Germany."

Close to the consulate, a protest of about 1,000 pro-Turkish demonstrators continued even though the authorities were making slow protest in driving them away.

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11:35 p.m.

Hundreds of protesters have gathered near the Dutch Embassy in the Turkish capital in Ankara shouting slogans against the Netherlands for barring Turkish ministers from addressing rallies there.

Police sealed off the entrance to Holland Street, where the embassy is located. Still, around 500 people waived Turkish and Ottoman flags near the embassy building.

State-run TRT television said some protesters hurled eggs toward the building but were warned to keep the protest peaceful.

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11:30 p.m.

Turkey's foreign minister has arrived in France for a political rally, after being barred from the Netherlands amid growing diplomatic tensions between Turkey and EU nations.

Mevlut Cavusoglu tweeted Saturday night that he is in the eastern French city of Metz "to have a meeting with our Consuls General and to gather with our citizens."

French officials said a rally by Cavusoglu planned for Sunday with the local Turkish population has been authorized and will be allowed to take place unless it represents a threat to public order.

Dutch authorities refused to allow Cavusoglu to land in Rotterdam because of objections to his intention to rally for a Turkish referendum on constitutional reforms to expand presidential powers, which the Dutch see as a step backward from democracy.

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11:20 p.m.

Turkey's deputy prime minister says that Dutch authorities are preventing the Turkish minister for family affairs from reaching the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam or joining Turkish protesters there.

Numan Kurtulmus accused the Dutch authorities of "shameless and rude" behavior, adding that Ankara considers the moves against Minister of Family and Social Policies Betul Sayan Kaya as acts against "the whole of Turkey."

Kurtulmus told CNN-Turk television: "let's hope they soon return to their senses."

He predicted that the Dutch government would feel "shame" and apologize to Turkey.

10:45 p.m.

A group of protesters has gathered outside the Dutch consulate, located on the main pedestrian thoroughfare in Istanbul, singing the Turkish national anthem and chanting slogans.

Footage from private Dogan news agency showed special operations and riot police outside the consulate, which has been closed off due to security reasons.

The crowd, waving Turkish flags, chanted slogans Saturday night that included "Netherlands, don't be surprised and don't test our patience," ''God is great," ''Barbarian Europe" and "Dictator Netherlands will pay."

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9:45 p.m.

A Turkish foreign ministry official says that access to and from the Dutch Embassy in Ankara and the consulate in Istanbul has been closed off for security reasons.

The official said entries and exits were closed at the two locations. Similar precautions were taken at the Dutch charge d'affaires' house and the ambassador's residence. He didn't provide any further information and spoke on customary condition of anonymity.

Earlier Saturday, the Foreign Ministry summoned the charge d'affaires to protest the country's decision to withdraw the flight permit of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

--By Zeynep Bilginsoy in Istanbul.

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9:20 p.m.

The Turkish foreign ministry says that it doesn't want to see the Dutch ambassador, who is out of the country, to return to his post for some time because of the increasingly divisive dispute with the Netherlands.

The Netherlands has forced the Turkish foreign minister to stay out of the Netherlands and thus banned him from speaking about next month's referendum to expand the powers of the Turkish president.

The Turkish foreign ministry statement says that "we have expressed to our Dutch counterparts that this grave decision against Turkey and the Turkish society in the Netherlands would lead to serious consequences in our diplomatic, political, economic and our other relations."

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7:40 p.m.

About 100 pro-Turkish demonstrators have gathered outside the Turkish Consulate in Rotterdam at dusk with flags in a peaceful protest following the acrimonious words between both governments. The crowd is standing near the consulate's entrance, with Rotterdam police putting up railings to keep anyone from getting too close.

The protest came after the Dutch government barred the Turkish foreign minister from landing in the Netherlands to address a rally in support of a Turkish referendum to extend the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

As the crowd grew, so did the Dutch security force outside the consulate and at one point, a chopper came hovering overhead.

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5:10 p.m.

Turkey's foreign minister says that the Dutch decision to deny his plane landing permission for him to enter the Netherlands "is a scandal in every way and cannot be accepted."

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was due to visit Rotterdam on Saturday to campaign for a referendum next month on constitutional reforms in Turkey. The Dutch government says that it withdrew the permission because of "risks to public order and security."

Cavusoglu, speaking at Istanbul's airport, said that the Dutch are trying to prevent Turkish officials from meeting voters in Europe.

He said: "So they cancelled it due to security concerns, what, so is the minister a terrorist?"

The minister added: "We will give them the response they deserve."

He also said that "we have received many supportive messages from the Netherlands, saying they don't agree with their government's racist, fascist policies."

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4:30 p.m.

Around 100 people have marched in Istanbul to protest Netherlands' decision to bar Turkey's foreign minister from campaigning.

The demonstrators have laid a black wreath in front of the Dutch Consulate amid a heavy police presence.

The pro-government group said in a statement, "Today we see the Dutch government making decisions that hurt the Turkish nation."

Emphasizing freedom of assembly and expression, the group said, "Netherlands has made big mistakes towards Turkey's ministers in terms of democratic rights and freedoms."

The group chanted "God is Great" and other slogans before dispersing.

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3:55 p.m.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim criticized Netherlands' decision, calling on Europe to cease meddling in Turkey's affairs.

Speaking at a rally in western Turkey, Yildirim said: "They are banning our ministers and lawmakers who were going there to meet our citizens living abroad, they are creating obstacles."

The prime minister added: "Hey Europe, please don't meddle in Turkey's internal affairs and politics and don't take a side."

The Turkish government accuses Germany and Netherlands of preventing campaigns in order to influence a "no" vote in the referendum.

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3:20 p.m.

The organizers of the planned rally in Rotterdam with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu appealed for calm after the Dutch government barred him from coming to campaign for next month's referendum in Turkey.

The organizers said: "We are asking all our citizens to stay home, calm and subdued."

The organizers said that "the decision is undemocratic and counter to the freedom of assembly and freedom of expression." Since the rally was called off, they said Turkish-Dutch citizens who have a right to vote in the referendum "would give a fitting answer" in the vote, which the Dutch government sees as a step backward in the democratic process in Turkey.

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3:05 p.m.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte called a Turkish allegation that the Dutch acted like "fascists" by banning the foreign minister from entering the Netherlands to campaign "a crazy remark."

"I understand they are angry but this is of course way out of line," Rutte said in the southern Netherlands during a campaign rally for next Wednesday's Dutch elections.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the Dutch "do not know politics or international diplomacy" and added, "these Nazi remnants, they are fascists."

Rutte said it was not right "for Turkish ministers to campaign in the Netherlands among Dutch people —with potentially a Turkish passport, yes — but first of all Dutch people."

Despite the angry words, Rutte said it was important to keep good relations with Turkey.

"We will do everything to keep the relations with Turkey as good as possible, as strong as possible," Rutte said. The Netherlands and Turkey are NATO allies and, through the European Union, it also has a major agreement with Ankara on migration flows.

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2:35 p.m.

Turkey's EU Minister Omer Celik has tweeted that the decision to block a visit by the Turkish foreign minister "will go down in history as a dark spot on the Netherlands' democracy and diplomacy."

Celik said: "The Netherlands' decision to cancel the flight permit of our foreign minister is not befitting of friendship. This decision does not suit our alliance and our friendship that has spanned centuries. If racist Geert Wilders were in power in the Netherlands, he'd make such a decision."

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2 p.m.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu the leader of Turkey's main opposition party criticized the Dutch decision and said, "This is not correct."

He added: "Those who defend democracy would not do such things. You'll call yourself a democrat and then not permit the flight of a minister of the Turkish Republic?"

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10 a.m.

The Dutch government on Saturday withdrew landing permission for the Turkish foreign minister's aircraft, drawing a furious reaction the Turkish president and escalating a diplomatic dispute between the two NATO allies over campaigning for a Turkish referendum on constitutional reform.

The Dutch government said in a statement it had withdrawn the permission because of "risks to public order and security" caused by the proposed visit of Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to Rotterdam.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised retaliation against Dutch diplomatic flights.

"You can stop our foreign minister's plane all you want, let's see how your planes will come to Turkey from now on," Erdogan said at a rally in Istanbul.