Netherlands withdraws ambassador after refusing apology to Turkish minister

The Dutch government has officially withdrawn the Netherlands' ambassador from Turkey, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Monday after the two sides failed on normalization talks.

Turkey asked the Dutch authorities "to take a step in order to compensate for their attitude" against a Turkish minister, a Turkish diplomat told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

Turkey and Netherlands were recently in talks for normalization of relations which were strained last year after the Dutch authorities expelled Turkish Family and Social Affairs Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya.

Ankara was asking the Dutch government to issue an apology for Minister Kaya, but the Netherlands did not agree on that, according to the diplomat.

"Recent talks offered Turkey and the Netherlands an opportunity to come closer to each other, but we have not been able to agree on the way normalization should take place," said Dutch Foreign Minister Halbe Zijlstra.

"Therefore the Dutch government has decided to officially withdraw its ambassador to Ankara, who has not had access to Turkey since March 2017. As long as the Netherlands has no ambassador to Turkey, it will also not issue permission for a new Turkish ambassador to take up duties in the Netherlands," added the Dutch ministry.

This message has just been conveyed to the Turkish charge d'affaires in The Hague. It has brought a pause in the talks with Turkey, according to the Dutch ministry.

The Dutch ambassador in Ankara has not had access to Turkey since March 2017 when diplomatic tension between the two countries rose. In reciprocity, Turkish ambassador to the Netherlands is absent since early 2017.

The tension accelerated ahead of the April 16 referendum in Turkey last year on constitutional amendments to expand the Turkish president's power, when Turkish ministers were barred from holding rallies in the Dutch city of Rotterdam.

Dutch authorities canceled the flight permit of a plane carrying Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on March 11 and declared the Turkish ministers would not be welcomed for their referendum campaign.

The Dutch government also expelled Minister Kaya from Rotterdam after blocking her from addressing the Turkish community in front of the Turkish consulate there ahead of the referendum.

Kaya was escorted by the Dutch police to Germany after a police intervention against Turkish expats gathered in front of the Turkish consulate building in Rotterdam.

Kaya said she suffered "harsh and rude treatment" by the Dutch police.

"I went there to meet our electorate. I went to meet them at our consulate which is part of our homeland, and we do not need to get permission for that," she told reporters on March 12 after her plane landed in Turkey.

The Dutch banning to Turkish ministers came just days before a Dutch election in which far-right candidate Geert Wilders was poised to increase his share of the vote after having campaigned on an anti-immigrant platform that has attacked Turkish expats. Turkey demanded that Minister Kaya should see an apology from the Netherlands because she was mistreated despite having diplomatic immunity as a minister. However, Dutch government argues that their action is not violation of diplomatic conventions, questioning the applicability of the diplomatic immunity for Kaya.


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